17 March 2009

I Am All Oregon, Baby, The List Explained: Nos. 11-20

1983.Way back a few months, before the colossal computer failure, I'd reprised the I'm All Oregon, Baby list that I'd revised in Number 1831 of 29 October. At the time, someone somewhere else released a list of you know you're Oregonian if ... trivial points, and I knew I could go that better. And, I did.

I thought that a little more exposition was in order, so I released Number 1841 later on, detailing personal explanations to numbers 1-10. Really, it's a subjective thing, but there's cultural commonality that means that some people are just ... well, more local than others. And since I was (and still am) unforgivably smug about being lucky enough to be born in Oregon, I think that I ought to walk my talk.

Peforce, we take up again the deep glimpses into the elements of my list, and why I think they really make you The Compleat Oregonian. Let's take it up with number 11:

11. You remember how the building that housed that Morrison Street store was levelled (this doesn't happen often in Oregon)

By "That Morrison Street Store", I'm referring to the legendary Morrison Fred Meyer, the Fred Meyer store that was downtown and about the size of a large drug store–hardly the 1-stop Shopping that Fred Meyer made famous, but a traditional location for a Fred Meyer, being as the original store was located a mere one block south, at SW 5th and Yamhill.

The Morrison Street Fred Meyer was on the first floor of the Corbett Building. What is on that block now is a part of the Pioneer Place Mall, and the Corbett had to go. The method was, as far as we know, Portland's first (and so far only) controlled demolition implosion.

Emporis has a page with an awesome picture here. The Corbett Building died on 1 May, 1988.

12. You remember what sort of imported car Tom McCall stuffed his 6-foot-plus frame into during his tenure as Governor.

While I don't remember the model, it was an Audi. I do remember the news photos of it. It was kind of funny, watching this Central Oregonian rancher's kid stuff himself in the back seat. But that was Tom McCall for you.

13. You consider Tom McCall God. There's no passes on this one.

He cleaned up the Willamette River, opened the beaches to all, and told everyone to please visit Oregon again and again, but don't come here to live. Said in earnest jest in an interview with CBS's Terry Drinkwater around 1970, it defined Oregon as a state of quirky individualists.

They only made one Tom. Ther're Governors who came close, maybe, since. And maybe Governors of similar stature elsewhere. But if you want the best damn governor Oregon ever had, it's Tom.

That's my story, and I'm-a stickin' to it.

Tom McCall died in 1983, aged 69.

You all know I have terminal cancer—and I have a lot of it. But what you may not know is that stress induces its spread and induces its activity. Stress may even bring it on. Yet stress is the fuel of the activist. This activist loves Oregon more than he loves life. I know I can't have both very long. The trade-offs are all right with me. But if the legacy we helped give Oregon and which made it twinkle from afar—if it goes, then I guess I wouldn't want to live in Oregon anyhow.

14. You remember what Tom McCall did to make the beaches of Oregon open to everyone, all the time. You know that, in Oregon, signs that said "Ocean Beaches" was just Oregonian for "This way to the coast".

In 1967, Tom got HB 1601–the Beach Bill–passed:

In 1967 Governor Tom McCall signed the Beach Bill with great fanfare, calling it "one of the most far reaching measures of its kind enacted by any legislative body in the nation." The bill granted the public recreational rights to the dry sands of Oregon’s beaches all the way to the vegetation line.

This was kind of an evolution of something Governor Oswald West did in 1913–declaring the wet sand beach portion of the beach a public highway (and it kind of was–Oregon Coasters used opportune sections of beach to get from town to town before there was a US 101). But naturally this left enough leeway for developers to take as much dry sand as they could, and knowing the usual Oregon developer, I don't doubt they tried.

And it's true that, all during the last half of the 20th Century, if you were going to the Oregon Coast, you followed the signs reading "Ocean Beaches" which pointed westward from every likely cross-highway access from the Valley cities. Latterly, the signs say "Oregon Coast".

I mourn the passing of those old signs.
15. You understand that the correct way to say Glisan is seen as incorrect, and the incorrect pronounciation is what everyone uses.

The actual correct pronounciation of Glisan, I am told (and they say there's evidence to back this up) is as the word glisten. It makes sense. As far as I'm aware, a vowel after two consonants should generally be pronounced "short". Somehow, over the years, we've vowel-shifted it to rhyme with the last name of The Great One.

So you have a choice: say it wrong and be a regarded a local, or say it right and be regarded an anal-retentive goober (and get corrected a lot).
16. You have spent at least one (preferably more) camping holidays at Detroit Lake (or similar reservoirs in the Cascades.

Oh, yes, summers in the Cascades. At the time all I was interested in was Detroit Dam, but the trees, the lake, the stream tumbling down from the mountains ... it's an Oregon thing. If you grew up in Albany or Corvallis you went out to Green Peter or Foster reserviors, if you grew up down in Eugene you went down to Dexter reservior. It's an east-west-east rhythm that easily rivals any vacation crush to the Borscht Belt.

17. You remember when Bend had a population of about 15,000. Wasn't all that long ago.

In the mid-late 20th C, before Bend was "discovered", it was kind of a poky little place of 15-20,000 and grew kind of slowly. As late as 1990 Bend only had about 20,000 people in it, kind of a Central Oregon version of Pendleton.

Then the housing bubble grew, "lifestyle" migrations became fashionable, and Bend was "discovered".

There are still people trying to recover from that, but nevermind. Statstics show that Bend added nearly 23,000 people between 1980 and 1990, and current estmates of its population put it near 80,000.

Now it's Central Oregon's version of Yakima, population-wise-speaking.

18. You know what they Round-Up in Pendleton each year.

Cows. And then they use the cows to round up cowboys, and the cowboys round up spectators. The Pendleton Round-Up is amongst the most famous rodeos in all of Oregon, if not the west.

19. You have eaten frozen food products by Ore-Ida.
Via Wikipedia: Founded in the early 1950s, Ore-Ida was the pioneer of Tater Tots. The company's name is a portmanteau of Oregon and Idaho. Indeed, the company's original logo looked like the map silhouettes of Oregon and Idaho fused together, with the name Ore-Ida superimposed on it in italicized letters. Ore-Ida's primary production facility is located in Ontario, Oregon, and employs over 1,000 local residents.

Yep. OreIda made Napoleon Dynamite necessary, and intoduced us all to the allure of Tots. Life was never the same.
20. You have had earnest discussions with someone east of the Cascades about what Oregon really is.

Everyone knows that there are two Oregons: Us, on the Wetback side of the Cascades and north of about Eugene look around and see lush, green moist climate, growing things, compact cities going through growing pains. Drysiders see ranches, wide-open spaces, not so much rain, beautiful volcanoes rising striaght up from the plains, and, if you're in the 1/3 of what's west of the Cascades that isn't the Valley, beautiful mountainous country that's dry and hot in the summer and cold and snowy in the winter.

Sometimes it's as though three excellent states were smooshed together to make one awesome one. And if we argue about what Oregon really is, where the heart and soul of Oregon can be found, we'll all eventually agree that we wouldn't want to be any-damn-where else.

We'll do 21-30 soon ... and not wait so long at it! Bis naechsten Mal, schloss für heute!

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