07 July 2007

[zeitgeist] I am all Oregon, Baby!

Welcome readers from UtterlyBoring, over in Bend. Feel free to comment–or if you have a question, ask away (and thanks for the tip).

861. It has not escaped my notice that a little quiz has been bopping about the blogging-o-sphere locally. The subject: How Oregon Are You?

Usually I shun taking such quizzes. Occasionally they are a little fun, but in the end they are typically based on someone else's perception of something we think we have in common but actually really don't–or at least, understand just differently enough that even though we all think we're on the same page, we actually aren't, or we're just using slightly different versions of the same alphabet.

Anyway, I'm not really trying to trash this quiz (especially in view of the tragic fate of the author...please, everyone, a moment of silence and then make the proper donation if you are so moved and can so afford), especially since it made a lot of people smile (me included) and was just made out for fun. It did make me think about what made "an Oregonian".

Especially in view of the fact that, despite the fact I was born in Oregon (Silverton, as I've before said), after two tries the best I could do was 88% (what did I get wrong, I wonder). Regardless, I do have an Oregon birth certificate, and that trumps all.

There are also "Oregonians" that I never "got". Gerry Frank, for instance. He's seems typically to be regarded as the quintessential Oregonian, even borrowing the name of a cherished Portland retail memory (M&F's "Friday Surprise") for his Oregonian column, but I can guaran-dang-tee you he never even soujourned for even a moment on my side of the tracks. I don't care who his family is; I just can't buy the idea of a fellow whose most signature literary achievement is the renowned How to Buy It, Find It, Eat It in...New York.

Yeah, I know...Meier & Frank heir, chief-of-staff to Mark Hatfield, and all that, but what he decidedly ain't is Oregonian Just Like Me™, and hardly the quentessential Oregonian. What business does an Oregon homie have getting to be an expert on the Big Smoke anyway? I mean, in those Pace picante sauce commericals, weren't the words "New York City" followed perforce by the phrase "Get a Rope"?

Okay, enough ranting. My point (and I do have one) is that there are many things that can qualify one as having that certain Oregonian something. Having grown up as a native-born (there are only fifteen of us: identify us for cool prizes!) there are a variety of things that I think you should be aware of and conversant on to be really Oregonian in my book. Since I have appointed myself arbiter, herewith, the list (not necessarily complete). You could really be an Oregonian if:
  1. You remember who Gene Brendler is.
  2. You watched Ramblin' Rod, no matter what age you are
  3. You or some family member appeared on Ramblin' Rod, no matter what age you are.
  4. You inveigled your parent(s) to buy Pop Shoppe pop because you saw it on Rambin' Rod.
  5. You know what Ramblin' Rod and Lars Larson have in common.
  6. You can name which TV stations the following personalities anchored for: Richard Ross, Pete Schulberg, Ivan Smith, Kathy Smith (no apparent relation), Bill Lagatutta, Bill O'Reilly (yes, that Bill O'Reilly), Robin Chapman, Tom McCall, Fred Jenkins, Rod Luck, Jim Bosley, Rick Meyers (no relation to Fred Meyer. Speaking of which...).
  7. You know what Fred G. Meyer's middle initial stood for.
  8. You knew that Freddy's was where you found things were "My-te-Fine".
  9. You remember than Fred Meyer once had a store on SW Morrison St in Downtown Portland.
  10. You understand why all Fred Meyer ads that aired during that time seemed to indicated that virtually nothing Fred Meyer advertised was sold at that Morrison Street Store
  11. You remember how the building that housed that Morrison Street store was levelled (this doesn't happen often in Oregon)
  12. You remember what sort of imported car Tom McCall stuffed his 6-foot-plus frame into during his tenure as Governor.
  13. You consider Tom McCall God. There's no passes on this one.
  14. You remember what Tom McCall did to make the beaches of Oregon open to everyone, all the time.
  15. You know that, in Oregon, signs that said "Ocean Beaches" was just Oregonian for "This way to the coast".
  16. You understand that the correct way to say Glisan is seen as incorrect, and the incorrect pronounciation is what everyone uses
  17. You have spent at least one (preferably more) camping holidays at Detroit Lake (or similar reservoirs in the Cascade foothills
  18. You remember when Bend had a population of about 15,000. Wasn't all that long ago.
  19. You know what they Round-Up in Pendleton each year.
  20. You have eaten frozen food products by Ore-Ida.
  21. You have had earnest discussions with someone east of the Cascades about what Oregon really is.
  22. You have visited Silver Falls State Park at least once.
  23. You have ridden a Cherriot...or know what one is.
  24. You know which Oregon town the "Cherry City" is...and why they call it that.
  25. You have watched at least one go of the Jerry Lewis Telethon on KPTV.
  26. You know what Vortex was (I'm not talking about the one down in SW Oregon).
  27. You know what the 80's one-hit-wonders Quarterflash was before they were Quarterflash.
  28. You know what the founders of Quarterflash went on to.
  29. You know where Mark Hatfield kicked off each election campaign (or maybe that was Packwood).
  30. You remember why "Trooper" Dick Curtis wanted to know where those two truckers were going with all that beer.
  31. You remember his extremely short-lived daytime talkshow on KOIN-TV.
  32. You remember where the Portland Sports Arena was. Bonus if you know what it was before it was that.
  33. You know who Frank Bonnema was.
  34. For that matter, you know who Victor Ives and Jimmy Hollister were, which radio station they worked for, which TV station they did a show for (and the characters thereon), and what style of comedy they did.
  35. You ever ate "jo-jos" bought in a roadside convenience store.
  36. You know there really is (was? what's become of her?) an Izzy's behind Izzy's Pizza and where Izzy's began.
  37. You have a Bi-Mart Membership card (I still have my original green paper card from 1981).
  38. You vistied OMSI while it was still in Washington Park (and still affordable).
  39. You saw a Tom Peterson's "Wake Up" commercial after midnight. Bonus here if you went down to Tom Peterson's in the middle of the night just to see if they weren't fooling about being open that late. Whether or not you were drunk when you did it doesn't matter, but it does make for an interesting story.
  40. If you ever noticed that the Humane Society seems to be out near the airport...of course, that might just be me.
  41. You remember what the shows "Evening" and "PM Magazine" were about
  42. You cringe whenever you hear someone going on, once again, about that damned exploding whale. Bonus points grudgingly awarded if you know who broke that story.
  43. You don't get bonus points if you know where the fellow who broke the story in number 38 works now, but I will say he has a fine morning radio show. You should listen.
  44. You know what KPOJ was during the 70s and 80s, when it was huge.
  45. You know where the call-sign KPOJ came from, and what the letters (except the K) stood for.
  46. You are aware of Mill-Ends Park, and why it became what it is today.
  47. You know what was in Tom McCall Waterfront Park before it was a park
  48. You know the elevation of Mount Hood within 100 feet without consulting a reference book.
  49. You remember when the Willamette ferries were for free.
  50. You know how to get to the Wheatland, Canby, and Buena Vista ferries.
  51. You ever had (or saw) a bumper-sticker that read "The Wheatland Ferry Does It For Free"
  52. You remember Yamhill County back when all they had out there was McMinnville.
  53. You remember that McMinnville's annual city fete is called "Turkey-rama".
  54. You remember when Western Oregon University was called "Oregon College of Education".
  55. You remember that OCE's campus paper was once called The Lamron...and why.
  56. You know the back way from Independence to Corvallis (actually, that is just me...I highly recommend it. It's pretty)
  57. You know what the huge blockhouse of Highway 99W at Adair Village (just north of Corvallis) used to contain.
  58. You remember how scandalous it was to have a case of Coors, and why you couldn't get it here.
  59. You remember how disappointed you were at finally tasting Coors, and thinking you'd of been better off with a six-pack of Blitz-Weinhard.
  60. You remember that Blitz-Weinhard was once "the beer here".
  61. You know what I mean when I say "Mossback" (hint-this list is highly mossback-centric).
  62. You're thankful that hops are once again plentiful along the state highways.
  63. You miss the smell of beer brewing next when you go to Powells.
  64. The words "Harbor Drive" mean anything to you.
  65. You ever said "Don't Californicate Oregon".
  66. You're sure that you'd love the Oregon Shakespearean Festival, if you'd ever get round to going.
  67. You've heard of "Drain, Oregon", and that's just fine. No need to actually visit (no hatin' on Drain, by the way).
  68. You know what and where the "D" River is, and think those kids up in Great Falls MT are just a teensy bit uppity. And wrong.
  69. When you go to Newport, whether or not you can visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium, you make sure you stop by the OSU Marine Science Center.
  70. You aren't as impressed by the various bouts of the "town" of Brothers being sold as the outside world is.
  71. You, every now and then, use Highway 99E to get to Salem, rather than I-5. Also a pretty drive.
  72. You know the correct pronunciation of "Gervais"
  73. You know the difference between "Eola" and "Ecola".
Wow. I didn't know I'd come up with such a big list.

Now you know what I mean when I say I think this is more than a little subjective. To me, however, the definition of an Oregonian would be someone, no matter where, they're from, that cherishes the special character of Oregon-no matter how you see it-and commits themselves, just like many of us do, to see that Oregon endures and Oregon, and not just some other place in the world.

Gotta run.

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LeLo in NoPo said...

Wow. Now THAT'S a list. It's so thorough I think there must be 5 or 6 Oregonians in the state.

Seriously though...your list requires people to have grown up here. Do you believe one can become an Oregonian or does it require living your whole life?

My other half says to become an Oregonian you have to have lived more of you life in Oregon than elsewhere. If that's the case, I have about about 7 more years to go. Sigh.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Wow. Now THAT'S a list. It's so thorough I think there must be 5 or 6 Oregonians in the state.

And I got them all from a lifetime growing up here. Impressive, no?

Seriously though...your list requires people to have grown up here. Do you believe one can become an Oregonian or does it require living your whole life?

Fair question–my smug attitude about being native-born (hey, I know it–no shame in my game) would make you think that.

But there is, in my opinion, a certain je nais sais quoi that separated the real Oregonian from the poser. And I think you don't have to be a native born to be a real Oregonian.

I also don't think there's necessarily a time-limit on being there before you can be thought of as a local. I may not have made it clear, but to me what makes the "real" Oregonian is the recognition of what makes Oregon such a desierable, cool, kind of offbeat place to be, and the willingness to be as committed as me and many locals are to keeping Oregon special and not allowing it to evolve into some place that pretty much looks like every other place.

Of course, you do have to be born here to be native Oregonian. Being a native allows you to occasionally adopt an insufferably smug attitude about being born here and not having to apologize about lording it–be we natives try not to be too snotty about it. B-)

My other half says to become an Oregonian you have to have lived more of you life in Oregon than elsewhere. If that's the case, I have about about 7 more years to go. Sigh.

Well, like I said, I think it's more of an attitude and state of mind than a period of years.

For instance, I wasn't born in Portland, but in Silverton, even though I've been in the Portland media market all my life. This means that there are native Portlanders than are better at that than I am. However, there is a point after which you call yourself Portlander instead of "originally from Silverton" (or Molalla, or Scotts Mills, or whatever), and I think I passed that an awful long time ago.

Moreover, the feeling of living in the northern Willamette Valley means that every town–even one as big as Portland–is just the next burg down the road, so I feel like I never really left the place I grew up in (the hospital I was born in is only about an hour away by car, anyway–through some of the most beautiful farmland you ever saw).

My wife was born in Ohio but she loves Portland more fiercely than I do sometimes, so, hey, as far as I'm concerned, she's Oregonian enough for me.