In December of 1999, within 24 hours after I first saw Salem, I decided to move here. Taking an apartment where the windows face the Willamette River, I had arrived “without baggage” as a friend says ~ knowing nothing of the city except it had a nostalgically appealing historic downtown and an adjoining public library. I thought a good start toward meeting people would be to become a volunteer at that library. By coincidence, that was exactly the time a website, Salem History, was being created by the staff. As a former American Studies teacher and historian, I was eager to learn about Salem by becoming a researcher and writer for this enterprise. After the city stopped producing the website, I began compiling “SHINE on Salem 150,” a blog celebrating that anniversary of the city’s charter. Fortunately, my son Tom moved to Salem to become my next-door neighbor and official photographer. This partnership led to the creation of the several additional Salem history web blogs and self-guided walking tours, incorporated in this website.
Bill Church at the Statesman Journal brought an even wider readership by publishing “SHINE on Salem 150” in the Statesman Journal. KMUZ, the non-profit Mid-Willamette Valley radio station, expanded that subject, broadcasting a series of Salem history conversations between Jim Scheppke, the former State Librarian, and myself. By 2013, Tom and I were wandering around Marion County, snapping pictures and talking with the folks in our neighboring cities. The result was “Marion County 20.”
With us, from the first days of composition, has been Stephanie Matlock Allen. As a former journalist, she understood what the viewer needed to see and learn in our heritage profiles. But most of all, because she is computer-experienced, she was always ready, when I panicked, to solve technical problems. Thank you, Stephanie!
However, no matter how fascinating it is to research personalities and events of our past, it is the present local cultural and economic climate that should be our concern. Our aim is two-fold: to bring attention to Salem’s important role in Oregon’s past and to recognize the valuable assets of the Salem neighborhoods and parks we enjoy today.
Now retired from local research activities, Tom and I look forward to being observers of the city that has become our home. None of us can influence our community’s history, but we are all responsible for its future.