16 thoughts on “Sellwood Park, 1962

  1. Good take William. I never owned a bike lock growing up. My parents didn’t lock the front door. I’m not saying life was always better then (I was born in 1951) but I often think fondly of my carefree childhood.

  2. Much lower drug addiction per capita in 1962 and in addition the Federal government still helped the States out with money for Mental institutions. It would be interesting to see the difference in the per-capita rates of homelessness. Old apartment stock was extremely inexpensive.

  3. The trees are bigger, and the playground equipment has been changed out, but the scene is mostly unchanged:

  4. Yes – agree with all the above. Hard to understand how we’ve moved to a state of fear and suspicion so quickly. Even as a teenager I never had a key to our house. My parents were always at home (asleep) and I would lock the door behind me. The only “break in” we ever had was when a new boy in the neighborhood took my dad’s empty beer bottles off the back porch. Dad caught him in the act and scared him enough not to try it again, ha.

  5. Yeah, grew up in both Sellwood and Westmoreland parks and still walk through both quite often. Some changes, but nice to see it mostly the same. A nice connection to my childhood as well.

  6. This photo brings back memories of my carefree boyhood growing up in Portland in the 1950s, and Sellwood Park, with its swimming/wading pool and wonderful big trees was one of my familiar haunts. Yes, unlocked houses, bikes left everywhere, kids safely playing and roaming through the neighborhoods; that was all true. That all changed when I moved to the “big city” of San Francisco in my late teens and “grew up.” But fond memories of my Portland boyhood are with me to this day, and this photo really captures the spirit of those memories!

  7. Different part of town, but shades of Ramona and Beezus, Henry Huggins, and Klickitat Street.

  8. Look at all the Schwinn and Raleigh bicycles. I can understand people’s nostalgia for the days of lower bike theft and of feeling secure enough to leave house doors unlocked; I experienced that once living on a Greek island back in 1990, but never here.
    The summer of 1962 was a relatively peaceful time in my childhood (before my folks split) but the Cuban Missile Crisis was just around the corner (October) and had things played out differently (had the Russian officer follow his launch orders) people would be making different types of comments about this time entirely, if at all. Feelings of security are illusory.

  9. We always locked our house; my (unlocked) bike was stolen from our (unlocked garage. We kept the bikes in the basement after that. And we lived in a pretty good neighborhood. Why do you think police existed in those days? Crime is not a modern invention.

  10. I’ve never been convinced there was less crime back then. In 1962 someone stole my brand new J.C. Higgens bicycle off the front porch while we were eating dinner. Crooks used to saw holes into the roofs off buildings to rob them “Yeggs used to dynamite safes. Ma and Pa stores in all areas of town were always getting robbed. Used to amaze me how many of these store owners would say “no” to the question of “give me your money” and then would be shot dead. I have found lists of “houses being broken into” in 19th century Oregonian articles. In the 30’s the police were stationed in front of PDX banks with order to shoot on “suspicion”. I think there were fewer people.

  11. One of my best childhood memories was going every day in the summer of 61 to swim in Sellwood pool. The fact that it was free meant that now I still love to swim.

  12. I need to explain my fond memories. I grew up in a small town (pop. 2500) in the North Idaho mountains. It probably wasn’t as safe as we thought but ironically we always felt safe. Mysteriously we usually were. Ours was a mining and lumbering town. Mines were worked 24/7. We had at least 15 bars in town and a number of 24 hour cafes. And….there were 5 houses of “ill repute” that actually had neon signs. We walked past the bars and houses on our way to the theater. Even as grade schooler, I walked downtown from the school if I had a dentist appointment. No questions were asked.

  13. One thing that made our childhoods different – there were so many of us! Being a Boomer meant having so many things focused on US. Almost every city park had paid staff on duty all summer. They filled the wading pools, put out the games and ping pong tables, tetherballs, etc. There were arts and crafts, picnics and outings. Commitment of funding to Parks and Rec activities made a safer environment for kids.

  14. Debby, growing up in Portland, that is so true! I guess we were fortunate to have grown up in that time and place, When my family moved to San Francisco in my late teens, that city didn’t have any kind of park programs for youth comparable to Portland. It was kind of a surprise.

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