Will the real Springfield take a bow?

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer April 13, 2012 12:47 pm

Stand aside, Springfield, Ill. Step back, Springfield, Mass. Get over it, Springfield, Vt.

Get real, Springfield, Ohio, and Springfield, Mo. Smell the roses, Springfield, Neb., and Springfield, Ky.

Take a rain check, Springfield, Mich., and Springfield, Ga.

Calm down, Springfield, Tenn., Springfield, Va., and Springfield, S.D.

The real Springfield that inspired “The Simpsons,” the one that beat out the other 13 Springfields in America, is my old hometown, Springfield, Ore.

Matt Groening, creator of the long-running animated show and sitcom in TV history, 22 years, admitted as much to “Smithsonian” magazine.

It’s something most of us in the Northwest have suspected.

One clue is that Groening hails from Portland.

A second is the big white armless statue of a guy on a horse that sits on the banks of the Willamette River as a driver leaves poorer and conservative Springfield and heads across the river to richer and liberal Eugene and shows up in “The Simpsons” from time to time.

The real Springfield is a city of 60,000 that boasts rafting on the McKenzie River, a wave pool and a new regional hospital.

The city also boasts an “historic district,” another word for area in need of urban renewal, where I briefly worked, after a layoff from a publishing company, for Goodwill Industries as a toy sorter. It was the type of neighborhood where you might want to install an additional seven locks on your car.

Naming the fictional town Springfield was a stroke of genius on Groening’s part. Springfield is about the most common city name in America.

The bigger point is, Oregon rocks. The state has some amazingly creative people who have made a mark on the national scene — people like Nike entrepreneur Phil Knight, photographer Minor White, science fiction writer Ursula LeGuin, chemist Linus Pauling and professional wrestler Roddy Piper.

Springfield is more than just a hick pit stop, as depicted in “The Simpsons.” It’s a town carved out of the rain forest in an ideal location, if you don’t mind nine months of clouds, a short hop to the beach and the Cascades.

No, it’s not Shangri La. But it still is a fine town to be from.


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