Where Beverly Met Ramona

Filed under:Authors,Photoblogging — posted by Anwyn on November 17, 2006 @ 9:34 pm

Today The Little Bean and I went “overtown,” as Bevery Cleary describes crossing the Willamette River to enter the other side of Portland, on an errand to the airport. On the way we scouted several locations in northeast Portland where Beverly Cleary passed her childhood. She lived until she was five or so at the farmhouse pictured in my previous post; her paternal grandfather is the “John Marion Bunn” in the plaque on the wall of the house. Her family subsequently moved into town. During their sojourn in the first of two rented houses, little Beverly Bunn attended Fernwood Grammar School, now Fernwood Middle School.

This clearly used to be the front of the school, but judging by the lack of handles on the door surrounded by neat stonework, it’s no longer even an entrance.

The inscription over the non-entrance reads “Fernwood Grammar School.” Around the side, on a newer portion of the building where the main entrance now is, is a newer sign designating it Fernwood Middle School.

Pictures of Cleary’s high school and the home her parents bought when they sold the farm after the jump.

Ulysses S. Grant High School and a close-up of its inscription:

Beverly’s parents bought a house on northeast “37th Street” (it’s actually 37th Avenue), “two blocks south of Klickitat Street,” the more famous location of the home of the Quimbys, Ramona and Beezus and their parents. This house matches in all architectural elements to the house pictured in A Girl from Yamhill. The garage, not pictured in this view, does not match precisely, but the balance of probability is that this is the house and the garage has been altered or replaced since the Bunns lived there. Once settled in this house, Beverly resumed her studies at Fernwood, having attended a different school while living in the second of their two interim rental houses.

Last but not least, proceeding two-ish blocks north of the house, we ran up into the famous Klickitat Street and the junction of the real and imagined: the street where little Beverly Bunn dreamed her dreams and with furrowed brow contemplated the inconsistencies and failings of her elders to understand a child, crossed with the street where lived Ramona Quimby, who also contemplated failures and inconsistencies but was shown how they could be reconciled with the love those same adults carried for her. From Cleary’s memoirs, it is clear that many of Ramona’s most outstanding moments were taken from life, but that little Beverly too often went without Ramona’s crowning realization of how much the puzzling and hurtful adult in question loved her and that it was a little misunderstanding on Ramona’s part that clouded the issue. One wonders if the grown-up Beverly came to view incidents in her childhood through a softened lens or whether she contented herself only with granting Ramona the comforting assurance she had lacked as a child.

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace