Lake Oswego is a notoriously tony and aptly named suburb south of Portland situated around a body of water known as Lake Oswego. It has many politically incorrect nicknames having to do with its purported lack of racial and ethnic diversity. But unlike many such suburbs, Lake Oswego was not established as a result of urban expansion and white flight. First an outpost for lumber transport, LO became a center for iron smelting and production in the mid-1800’s. Big creepy stone smelting towers still stand in George Rogers Park.
Just before Jesse and I left Minneapolis, we found ourselves browsing the stacks at Magers and Quinn. I struck gold (iron ore?) when I pulled “Oregon Geographic Names” by Lewis A. McArthur. This 450-page blue hardcover volume was published in 1928 and includes 11 fold-out maps and illustrations. Mr. McArthur takes the reader alphabetically through each geographic name in Oregon whose history he can possibly describe. The entry for “Oswego Lake” goes like this:
“OSWEGO LAKE, Clackamas County. Oswego lake was known as Sucker Lake during pioneer times because of the fish of that name. Local residents objected to the name and it was subsequently changed to Oswego Lake for the town of Oswego nearby, and it is now universally so known. It is said that the Indian name was Waluga which meant wild swan. The name Lake Oswego is a real estate dealer’s affectation.”
But that “town of Oswego nearby” was rather boringly named after Oswego, New York, by an Oregon pioneer named Durham in 1847. Poor homesick pioneer.
Jesse and his family lived in a little corner of LO for years. Jesse left for college and his folks booked it for the country. But! As a delightful vestige of their time in LO, they still receive the Lake Oswego Review, the precious Sunday suburb newspaper. So every week, Jesse and I fill up mugs with strong coffee and pick through the Review, in search of the Police Blotter. The Police Blotter fills, usually, about half a page and has headings including “Arrests” (that’s a short one), “Burglaries,” “DUII,” “Theft,” and our favorite, “Misc.”
Oh my God, we love Misc.
9/21/10 4:51 PM. A pot smoker was seen lighting up while sitting in a beat-up old gray car.
9/22/10 10:34 PM. Following an argument with his girlfriend, a boyfriend refused to leave. Eventually a cab was called for the recalcitrant male.
9/23/10 12:42 PM. A man’s neighbor is parking in such a lousy manner that he can’t get out of his driveway.
9/25/10 2:09 PM. A deer got stuck in the mud in the lakebed of Oswego Lake, but eventually was able to get out.
9/25/10 9:27 PM. Water balloons were thrown at cars driving down Melrose Street. Kids are suspected.
9/26/10 4:04 PM. A cat that was previously missing showed up after giving birth to four kittens.
It gets better. It always gets better.
9/27/10 4:39 PM. A creepy college student selling magazines made a woman uncomfortable with his sales pitch and personal appearance (including earrings in both ears).
9/27/10 8:13 PM. The awful smell coming from a vehicle turned out to be a malodorous sleeper. The was no sign of foul play. Just foul odor.
9/28/10 1:18 AM. Suspicious sounds in the night were heard by a woman living in an apartment on Kerr Parkway. When she opened her door, she found a bag of spaghetti sauce.
Spaghetti sauce. Kittens. Recalcitrant males and foul odors. Seems like every metro area has its own Lake Oswego. Ours comes with a Blotter. WIL indeed!