My Story

I was born on November 11, 1956, in Oregon's Willamette Valley (a little logging town named Lebanon). It's the beginning of what I call America's "Leave It To Beaver" era. If you had a TV then (not everyone did, especially not where I lived) Elvis had just made his first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, The Wizard of Oz had just aired for the first time, The Honeymooners was ending it's run, I Love Lucy and Dragnet were in full swing (Leave it to Beaver began in 1957). If you turned on your radio, you heard Elvis, Pat Boone, Frankie Laine, Chuck Berry, Sinatra, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Cooke, etc.

this is what people think Oregon looks like

this is what Oregon really looks like

Most people think of Oregon as this really green, nice place with birds singing, gurgling brooks, with smart, healthy, well educated and environmentally active people in new Nikes. That's true for people from Portland and Eugene, the rest is a wet, cold, dirty swampy field with a big, mean, stupid redneck glaring at you from his giant pickup (that has a "Rush is Right!" or "I'm An NRA Member!" bumper sticker). Like one of my students said recently, "Oregon... it's all trailers and meth, right?". Well, that's probably true now, back then, it broke down like this: the major industry was timber (that's lumber to most of you - like they sell at Home Depot in the part you don't go into), so you were either a logger, you worked in the mill (that's where they cut trees up into lumber), you drove a log truck, or you were a farmer/rancher. Everyone else was from Portland, like I said before, and that's what people from the rest of the world think is Oregon.

Some folks would say I'm a bitter newcomer, some kind of Californian! Sorry, but in fact, my family has been here since the 1850's. My great-great Grandfather, Francis Manning, was an Outrider on one of the first wagon trains on the Oregon Trail (an outrider shot game, took pot shots at Native Americans, whose land they were invading, and generally raised hell, much like myself :-) My family actually donated the land for the Oregon Pioneer Cemetary, where he's buried. Makes the rest of the story a bit strange, but you would have to understand Oregon as it is today for it all make sense.

I digress - I grew up during the baby boom years, and my Mom (a 4th generation Oregonian, as I said) thought television was great, because you could put your kid in front of it, and he would shut up and not cause trouble! True enough, but the kid then thinks TV is reality, and for me, that's certainly true. Bugs Bunny? Makes perfect sense. Of course ducks, rabbits and skunks talk! Hell, skunks have french accents!

Elvis isn't some drug addled hillbilly, he's The King! Cigarettes are good for you, and make you look manly. It's funny to be drunk. Dads go off to jobs, and come home in a good mood. Moms stay home and wear pearls all day. The neighbor kids are nice.