Visit Ramona Quimby's Portland
Long before Portland, Oregon, was famous for feminist bookstores and free-range chickens named Colin, it was home to another pop culture phenomenon: Ramona Quimby (age 8). Though Ramona, Beezus, and Henry Huggins were fictional, the streets they played on weren’t. From the Quimby home on Klickitat Street to the park where Henry Huggins once hunted for worms, many of your favorite Cleary memories are rooted in reality. Here are a few spots to visit the next time you’re in town.
Though Beverly Cleary herself grew up on 37th Street in Portland (just one of a few homes she lived in), she knew that her real street name wouldn’t grab imaginations the way Klickitat Street did, just a few streets over. “It reminded me of the sound of knitting needles,” she has said.
Another beloved Cleary character, Ellen Tebbits, also lived on a street with a name the author knew children would delight in saying: Tillamook Street. It’s real, too—and if you hang out near the intersection of Tillamook and 41st Avenue, you’ll have a vague idea of where Ellen Tebbits grew up.
Fans of Henry Huggins may remember a scene where he digs up thousands of nightcrawlers to sell so he can buy a football. That happened in Grant Park, which is also where you’ll happen to find bronze sculptures of Ramona, Henry, and Ribsy the dog.
If you’ve always wondered what Ramona’s Cedarhurst Elementary School was like, look no further than Laurelhurst School, Cleary’s inspiration. If you squint hard enough, you may be able to see Yard Ape playing catch with Ramona’s new eraser.
For extra credit, you can drive 50 miles southwest of Portland and check out the 1860 farmhouse Cleary lived in when she was young. Though the house itself didn’t play an official role in the Ramona books, Cleary has said that parts of her childhood certainly did, such as stomping around on stilt coffee cans and playing “brick factory.”