The 1980s were a wild time in Oregon; there were political scandals and major historic events, and even some particularly paradigm-shifting cultural changes. There were also some pretty epic pop culture contributions that have since become a part of the collective Oregon identity. Here are 11 things you’ll remember if you grew up in the ’80s in Oregon:
"Hey, you guys!" This iconic '80s movie put Oregon on the map, and has become part of our cultural identity here in The Beaver State. The 1985 comedy adventure has made Astoria a must-visit town in Oregon, with the house featured in the movie attracting loads of adoring fans every year.
If you mention "the boss" in Oregon, people won't think you're talking about Bruce Springsteen. Rather, they'll immediately start craving an Oregon delicacy known as "boss sauce." Macheezmo Mouse was an Oregon-based restaurant chain in the 1980s known for its tangy sweet "Boss Sauce"—a condiment the restaurant smothered on everything. Once projected to be surefire nationwide franchise, Macheezmo Mouse sadly closed in the early '00s. But its sauce remains the stuff of legends, with foodies still trying to create "copycat" versions of this craveable concoction.
The Clan of the Cave Bear
Chances are, you saw this book on your parents' nightstand growing up. Published in in 1980, this Ice Age-set odyssey became an immediate sensation; a ubiquitous piece of Oregon pop culture.
The Eruption of Mount St. Helens
On May 18, 1980, an earthquake struck below the north face of Mount St. Helens in Washington, triggering a major volcanic eruption that scattered ash across a dozen states, Oregon included. (Bend was particularly affected.) This tragic event also caused the largest landslide in recorded history.
Oregon's Guardian Angels
Oregon was not immune to the "war on crime" that happened across the U.S. in the 1980s. And things in Portland had gotten particularly grim. So leaders of the New York-based citizens' patrol group the Guardian Angels took matters into their own hands, arriving in the Rose City to launch a high-profile Oregon chapter that's still up and running to this day.
Another dark chapter in Oregon history; in the 1980s, cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh made Oregon home for himself and his extremist movement. Conflicts between the Rajneeshees and state and federal governments ensued, culminating in the mass poisoning of innocent restaurant customers and alleged murder plots.
The '80s in Oregon weren't all dark, however, with Bud Clark arriving on the scene to shake things up. Bushy-bearded and colloquial, Clark stunned everyone when he defeated the buttoned-up and predictable incumbent to become Portland's mayor in 1985. Known as "The People's Mayor," Clark pushed for mass transit and the city's rainy-day fund—and cemented Portland's national reputation as a place that welcomes the weird and wonderful.
Oregon cassette decks and car stereos were bopping in 1985, with the smash hit "I Can't Wait" playing on a loop. This single, released by Portland group Nu Shooz, was an instant hit, and could be heard on pretty much every radio station in the state.
The Oregon Trail
The eponymous Oregon computer game was its own cultural moment: you could find kids playing this game in computer classrooms all across the country in the '80s. The text-based adventure game taught school kids all about the perils of dysentery and crossing rivers in wagons on the infamous trail.
Eugene Wunderland Arcade
Speaking of games, Eugene Wunderland Arcade was a beloved nickel arcade located at 5th Street Market in downtown Eugene, Oregon. Its
Tron game was strong, and the commercials for this place were total earworms!
If you were a kid in Oregon in the 1980s, you undoubtedly remember Ramblin' Rod, the iconic kid's cartoon show on KPTV. Basically the Mr. Rodgers of Oregon, he interviewed kids, celebrated their birthdays, held "smile contests," and ran cartoons. It was a delightful show that ran until 1997.
If you remember Ramblin’ Rod, you’re in for a treat; here’s a snippet from one of the show’s classic episodes, smile contest and all!
What do you remember about the ’80s in Oregon? Share your favorite memories with us in the comments below! And for more facts about Oregon history, be sure to check out these
12 things you probably didn’t learn in school.
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