Last week my granddaughter, Evelyn, and daughter, Celeste, spent three days with us, having come up from their home in Laguna Niguel in Orange County so Evelyn could go on a tour of the University of Oregon. She'll be a junior at Mater Dei High School next year and is considering the U of O for college.
Here's Evelyn, Celeste, and me on the Minto-Island bridge at Riverfront Park, photo courtesy of my wife, Laurel.
Celeste lived in Salem from 1977 to 1990, when she graduated from South Salem High and headed off to the University of Arizona -- fulfilling her nefarious goal of having me pay out-of-state tuition for four years after she was born and raised in Oregon (albeit at a much lower rate than college costs these days).
We stopped by the house on Hillview Drive that my first wife and I bought when I started working for the State Health Planning and Development Agency. It looked much the same. Celeste wanted to show Evelyn the steep hill she walked up after the school day was finished at Salem Heights Elementary School.
One afternoon we headed to downtown Salem. Celeste had spent a lot of time there during her high school years, calling herself a "mall rat." Naturally she'd seen downtown on previous visits to Salem, but it had been a few years since she'd been there.
I was curious how someone from southern California, who travels a lot both in this country and internationally in the course of her work as the Sales Manager for Silhouette, a designer eyewear company, would look upon downtown Salem.
Well, Celeste was impressed. (Patrick, her husband, couldn't make the trip, having just started a new job as manager of a Baccarat store; if you're looking for a $800 caviar bowl, look no further.)
We started off with lunch at the downtown Venti's. I had one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches in my life. All four of us enjoyed our meal. Then we walked across the street to the Reed Opera House. Celeste remembered it well from her high school days.
Heading down Liberty, we stopped at Sewell Sweets for dessert. At the end of the block, The Freckled Bee drew us in. Since all four of us are progressives, we liked the sentiments in the store windows. Like:
It was great to see downtown Salem through the eyes of my daughter and granddaughter. I tend to take downtown for granted, since I'm there so often attending my thrice-weekly Tai Chi classes at Pacific Martial Arts on Court Street.
Celeste and Evelyn helped me better understand what downtown has to offer, partly because they drew me into shops that I haven't gone into on my own.