Photo: Matthew Oliphant
If you were a child on school playgrounds in the 90s you probably lost a Pog or two to that one kids impossibly heavy metal slammer. Originating in Hawaii in the 1920’s with the caps of POG (Passion Orange Guava) juice, the game went through several revivals before making its way to the west coast of the mainland in the 1990s. Soon, sidewalks everywhere were host to your group of friends gambling with tubes full of cardboard power ranger Pogs.
2. Bike jousting
How children survived childhood with activities like bike jousting is a question for Morgan Freeman. After grabbing a broomstick, metal trash can lid, and whatever fake plastic knights armor was in the basement, you’d mount your trusted bike, level your lance, and pray no one lost an eye.
3. Birthdays at Discovery Zone
Chuck E. Cheese was for children. Discovery Zone was for the big kids, chasing each other through a network of tubes and slides into the greasy depths of the ball pits. What you found there may have been what made them go out of business.
4. Blaze trails like Lewis and Clark
Blackberry bushes are abundant in Oregon, and with their height reaching 15 feet or more they offered the perfect obstacle to your trailblazing machetes. After hours of hacking through thorny vines, you’d emerge onto foreign land bleeding and out of breath only to be yelled at by the neighbors to get off their lawn.
5. Constructing tree forts
Using sticks, scrap wood, and whatever tools your dad would let you borrow you’d head into the woods and find the perfect tree to build your club-houses, Ewok villages, and forts to fend off the imaginary monsters that were dwelling in the shadows of the Douglas Firs that day.
6. Dune jumping
Every summer when Pacific City rose above 60 degrees you’d head for the coast, spending all day climbing up the Cape Kiwanda Sand Dune only to see who could leapfrog their way down the fastest.
7. Sand forts
You didn’t build castles, you built forts, and the ocean was your foe. How long the seagull feather that topped your keep kept fluttering in the wind depended on the size of your sand walls and the various measures you took, sacrificing your red, goose-pimpled bodies to the frigid Pacific waves until only one feather remained.
8. Bunkmates on the USS Blueback submarine at OMSI
Not every kid was lucky enough to have class field trips to OMSI, spending the day being briefed for your mission and the night bunked up together in the small, dank diesel smelling bunks of a decommissioned submarine.
At the pond, the creek, or the lake you’d get on a canoe, bait your hooks with worms and whatever juicy bugs you could find, sit back, relax and go fishing. If you couldn’t get the fish you would find yourselves some frogs. All the while discussing the curious habits of the orange bellied newts that were playing piggy back for hours beneath the surface of your childhood.
Through childhood and well into adulthood, camping in Oregon was a way of life. In high school your cars would be permanently supplied with camping gear in case the mood struck you to head for the Santiam Pass and look for a logging road marked with bullet-riddled signposts. As your siblings turned 21 and beneficently bought you Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Henry Weinhard’s Private Reserve, the campfires got bigger and your voices bolder. You got your first buzz out there, your first kisses, and under the star-filled sky overlooking the lake you slowly started to grow up not realizing what luck you had to do it here.