One of my favorite television shows ever was The Office. In the shows’ final episode, Andy Bernard, portrayed by Ed Helms, made a profound statement that has always stuck with me: “I wish there were a way to know you were in the good ole days before you’ve actually left them.”
I think many of us can relate to this sentiment, especially as it pertains to our childhood.
Childhood is awkward and confusing and carefree, fun, and fleeting.
I didn’t appreciate my childhood growing up in Portland. I was always wanting to be somewhere else. Somewhere warm, sunny; somewhere different.
But, looking back, Portland, Oregon is an amazing place to grow up and, while the landscape is surely different now, it’s still a wonderful place to grow up and raise a family.
I remember Ramblin’ Rod. Mr. Rod has now gone off to that great cartoon show in the sky but, before that, he delighted millions of Portland/Metro kids. Who, of my generation, doesn’t remember him sliding out on a tugboat, bedecked in buttons, showing us cartoons, giving out smile awards and singing birthday songs. I was on the show a couple of times, and was even the proud winner of a Smile Award. I also gave him a Jesus pin.
And, who could forget watching Tom Peterson commercials on television? His crew cut and his promise to give a crew cut for free to anyone who purchased furniture from him. “And free, is a very good price.” Indeed it is, Tom. Indeed.
But, also, elementary school. I remember the soggy tater tots that were so delicious to my developing taste buds, I remember talent shows and field trips to OMSI and the zoo. OMSI is still a great place for kids, for sure, but, I remember spending hours playing with magnets, tossing quarters in the giant funnel and watching it spiral down to… who knows where.
I started my school life at Clackamas Elementary before moving on to Stafford. I still remember Mr. Wing, Mrs. Isatalo, Mrs. Briggs-Crispin, Mr. Hardt. Then, junior high, where the awkwardness hit its peak before high school.
I remember digging my way to china—or at least trying too. And Portland had so many parks and a giant playground in Tualatin, and McDonald”s play places everywhere. Running down to the Willamette River and jumping in, coming home soaked to the bone and filthy. Rolling in sand and dirt and not having any cares of worries.
Sure, you could make these memories anywhere. But I made them in Portland and that’s why, no matter what happens, I will always consider myself an Oregonian and a Portlander. It’s a wonderful place to grow up, to live, to raise a family, to retire. I wouldn’t have it any other way and it’s one of the reasons I still love Portland, Oregon even all these years later. Growing up here was truly the good ole days.