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Part of why Oregon is so absolutely unique is that so many of its people are here by choice, not by birth, bringing to this place a first-hand awareness of how incomparably beautiful it is.
From the days of the Oregon Trail...and even thousands of years earlier when nomadic Asians crossed the land bridge to Alaska and migrated down the west coast to become this continent's First Peoples...Oregon has been the destination of choice for generations. A fresh beginning. A new world.
But as Don Henley sang, "There is no more New Frontier. We have got to make it here."
That's why Tom McCall, the great Oregon governor who was born 100 years ago Friday, had it exactly right when he said, "Oregon is demure and lovely. And it ought to play a little hard to get. And I think you'll all be just as sick as I am if we find that it is nothing but a hungry hussy throwing herself at every stinking smokestack that's offered."
It was the Republican McCall who invited people to come and visit, "but for heaven's sake, don't move here to live." Nevertheless, having heard his words on a network newscast while living in Colorado, that's exactly what I dedicated my fresh-out-of-college life to do. That's because when I first laid eyes on Portland in 1973, I was stunned by this Garden of Eden's setting in a rich green forest surrounded by white-capped mountains. That weekend visit changed the course of my life. Newcomers haven't always been exactly hugged in a welcoming embrace here, but as someone who came here with the benefit of fresh eyes, I know how astonishing a place this is.
So much of what we take for granted today was protected for us by our state's leaders in the McCall era. He didn't come up with the Oregon way of doing things, but he made it happen. This week, OPB TV ran a superb documentary on Tom McCall. You can watch it on line right here.