26 April 2014

[pdx] Tom Peterson and Parkinson's Disease

I've documented hereunto my affection for growing up in the age of Tom Peterson. The man was Portland's quintessential salesman, always smiling, always selling. Growing up, watching Portland Wrestling, with Tom good-naturedly hawking Xonix TVs in the crow's nest at the Portland Sports Arena next to Frank Bonnema … you can't really say you're an Oregonian kid unless you have some resonance with that.

Tom's store, after ups, downs, Stereo Super Stores, bankruptcy, resurgam, addition of Gloria to the famous logo, and final closing, was the keynote and heartbeat for Portland advertising for so very many years. Whether or not you would ever shop there, you'd take him to your heart. That smiling face just couldn't ever be mean to anyone.

If you hit him up on the right days, you could get a free haircut, too. Any style you wanted, as long as it looked like Tom's.

Tom's visage beatifying SE 82nd And Foster Road, back in the day.
©2009, Samuel John Klein, all rights reserved

He was out there and loved what he did. Some Taoist lesson in there somewhere, I'm sure.

The Tao of Tom.

As broken on KPTV-12 (the station where you'd most likely see him), he's advancing into the thick of his battle with Parkinson's disease, the one thing … short of absolute annihilation … that would have stopped him from selling. In honor of this bright spot of just plain decent human from back in the day, then …

You can see the video at KPTV's web page via this link. Have a hanky or two ready … seriously, it's kind of hard to watch, especially if you remembered his smiling face from all those commercials, and especially if you went down to 82nd and Foster and bought something from him. Xonix TVs are forever, you know … a haircut, well, it'll grow back.

I'm feeling a most existential sadness here. When Tom finally leaves us, as he must, a bright little part of silly, innocent Portland will kind of go with him.

And I'll miss it. Because I was there for that. It'll be losing a friend I never had the chance to meet.

Facebook has a group for people who remember the awesome, if you're interested: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tom-Petersons/243695409036413. I'm recommending this, of course.

The Portland Mercury has a bit at http://blogtown.portlandmercury.com/BlogtownPDX/archives/2014/04/25/tom-peterson-has-parkinsons-glorias-doing-great as well.

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