Wow! My last blog post about the new recreation center in Oak Hills broke all records. Here are the numbers:
- Unique views of the post to date: 1,492
- Views in a single day: 244
- Reach of Facebook ad promoting the post: 11,618
- Engagement with the ad: 57 likes, 9 comments and 11 shares
- Registrations on my website to view homes for sale in the area: 12
I’d like to think it was the verve of my prose. But I have to credit the vitality of the neighborhood. Current residents probably felt a spark of pride. And past residents voiced nostalgia for their old homes and neighbors.
One member of a select group (fiercely loyal 2nd generation residents) corrected me on the western boundary of the neighborhood. I still haven’t been able to find a definitive answer to the question of whether Oak Hills as a whole – or just its historic district – ends at Bethany Blvd.
It was a kick to see the Facebook ad become a virtual meeting point for relatives and long-lost friends. Even folks with 3rd generation ties to the neighborhood chimed in. Grandchildren of a former resident asked each other about old photos of grandpa’s house on Oakmont Loop in the early 80’s. One has vivid memories of the rocket ship on the community playground and was happy to learn that the Homeowners Association is raising funds to rebuild it.
“The rocket ship found its way into many of my dreams,” she wrote via Facebook Messenger. “It seemed to reach the sky!”
The person with the oldest direct tie to the neighborhood – extending at least as far back as 1967 by my estimate – grew up there and attended Sunset High. His parents bought the 12th house built in Oak Hills.
The bravest of those who commented on the Facebook ad agreed to meet me for coffee at Ava’s Roasteria in Timberland Town Center. Ronnie Augustynovich and her husband Ron raised a family in the neighborhood for 10 years before moving to their current home in Cedar Mill in 1992. She remembers eyeing Oak Hills when she and Ron first moved to Portland from Ohio. Though she was sold on the area, most properties went for about $10K over their maximum budget. That may sound like a small hurdle. We both laughed when she explained that the average sale price in Oak Hills was just $50K at the time.
Years on when they no longer needed a bargain, they happened to find one with the right layout – a foreclosure on Perimeter Dr with 5 bedrooms and an office on one level.
“It had purple shag carpeting and was a mess,” she remembers.
Ron promised Ronnie that it could be renovated into their dream home. And that’s what happened. In fact, he now says it was a mistake to leave since their current 2-story has no master on the main.
The rec center and youth swim team proved to be the family’s best entry point to Oak Hills. Ronnie remembers competitions in Toledo (OR), Junction City and at the Sunset Athletic Club. She cheered tirelessly for her son and daughter and their teammates from the sidelines.
But Ronnie has always been much more than a spectator in life. A crackerjack secretary with a typing speed of 120 words per minute and shorthand of 80 words per minute, she worked for many years in Beaverton School District at Ridgewood Elementary and Meadow Park Middle School. She also found time to coach a girls’ soccer team in Oak Hills. Believe it or not, one of her players – now grown up and with a toddler in tow – visited Ava’s during our interview.
Ronnie also served on the Board of the Homeowners Association. Asked about the issues of her day, she mentions speeding cars. The Board responded with a homespun public safety campaign in the Oracle, the newsletter that still serves the neighborhood.
With so many happy memories of the rec center, Ronnie was concerned about talk of getting rid of the pool toward the end the family’s time in Oak Hills. She and Ron visit the neighborhood now and then to walk their dogs and are impressed by the rebuild.
“It’s still a great place to live and raise kids,” she says.