James G. Blaine represented the state of Maine in the House of Representatives – where he served as Speaker – and the Senate. He later became Secretary of State and ran for President in 1884, losing narrowly to Grover Cleveland. In that campaign, Blaine visited every state except one, Oregon.
Eighty years later, Oregon author and journalist Stewart Holbrook, with tongue in cheek, founded the James G. Blaine Society. Concerned about environmental issues and population growth, Holbrook took Blaine as namesake of his non-organization. He felt that Blaine, having never set foot in Oregon, should serve as a model to others.
Tom McCall, Oregon’s governor from 1967 to 1975, earned notoriety when extolling the state’s natural beauty, he urged people to come visit, but added, “For heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.”
Since that time, Oregonians have blamed the influx of Californians for everything from escalating home prices to crowded freeways. (Oregon universities encourage Californians to come. In this age of diminishing financial support for higher education, Oregon universities like out-of-state tuition.)
California has begun doing its part to help. An article in my former hometown newspaper reports that for various reasons, the area is suffering a shortage of workers. In fact, it’s so bad that “Jackson Family Wines just offered a job to an Oregonian because it couldn’t find anyone in California with the skills to program the computers that control high-speed bottling lines.”
The Summer of Love began on sunny January 14, 1967 in San Francisco. Thirty thousand, mostly young, people gathered in Golden Gate Park for the first “Human Be-In.” With a far-off war raging and anti-Vietnam War protests escalating, the baby boomer generation was going to show the rest of the nation the way to peace and love: sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Jefferson Airplane and Quicksilver Messenger Service provided the music. LSD was handed out and Hell’s Angels provided security. (The wisdom of hiring a motorcycle gang for security was demonstrated thirty months and sixty miles later at the Altamont Speedway Free Festival when they beat to death an over-exuberant fan in front of the stage where the Rolling Stones were performing.)
The Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became the perceived center of the groovy lifestyle. Thousands of young people flocked there for a summer of love. The Monterey Pop Festival, brainchild of record company executives and producers, with private security and trained volunteers, in the minds of many somehow epitomized this new way of living.
Fifty years later, hipsters have replaced the hippies; young people line the sidewalks, playing with smartphones while waiting for free buses to their high-tech jobs in Silicon Valley. Airbnb will help you find a place to stay in Haight-Ashbury.
If you need to witness “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports,” the rapacious Ticketmaster “Verified Resale” offers tickets for a seat at next week’s Kentucky Derby starting at $348 and topping out well under $3,000. General admission, no seats, just access to the infield area where you can watch the race on giant-screen TV are only $75 up to day of the event. Relaxing and sipping a mint julep is difficult there. The Derby’s web site provides guidance to women for what to wear and whether to choose the dress or the hat first. (Sartorial advice for men is one short paragraph.)
There has been some – not a lot, really – agitation for the city of Portland to erect some kind of monument to The Simpsons, the long-running television program and brainchild of Portland native Matt Groenig. After all, many Simpsons characters are named after Portland streets.
The local Willamette Week newspaper used Santa Rosa California as an example. Peanuts characters are inescapable in any part of the adopted home of Charles M. Schulz. The information booth at Santa Rosa’s airport, the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, is a reproduction of Lucy’s “Psychiatric Help 5¢” booth.
Portland has already honored another native literary icon with statues of fictional characters. You may be familiar with the Henry Huggins series of books. The Multnomah County Library’s central location houses its children’s book in the Beverly Cleary Room.
The adventures of Henry and his dog Ribsy found in their neighborhood have entertained several generations of young readers. Henry and Ribsy live on Klickitat Street in northeast Portland. (Present tense, because they are still alive for readers.) The sisters Beezus and Ramona Quimby reside down the street. The Library periodically sponsors walking tours of their neighborhood.
A couple years ago, the Laurelwood Brewery, based in northeast Portland, was selling their product from a booth at an outdoor concert. They were promoting a seasonal brew, Klickitat Ale. I asked if that was what Henry Huggins drank. The server looked at me as if I was an alien being speaking an unknown language.