Portland Has Henry Huggins

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.

Henry and Beezus and Ribsy live on in sculpture, frolicking in Grant Park, near Klickitat Street. (The movie Mr. Holland’s Opus was filmed at Grant High School.)

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.

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