How well do you know your town?

Before the 2012 election, Jean Hoffman and I, both Mary’s Woods residents and members of the League of Women Voters, discovered that many residents of Mary’s Woods thought that Lake Oswego was a mailing address, not the name of the city in which we live.

That lack of information carries over to the questions we hear not only from newcomers to Mary’s Woods but also from Lake Oswego residents, too.

Those facts prompt my plan to host a “Conversation With Ardis” in October to explore the history of Lake Oswego and know who we are. The meeting, open to the public, will be a chance for all of us to know our community and why we should care.

The idea for this conversation came from a dinner several weeks ago with new arrivals at Mary’s Woods — a couple from New Jersey. This residential community promotes an attitude of friendly communications. Everyone is encouraged to greet their neighbors, invite people to join you for dinner and share information about activities and services. A recent group dinner produced some questions and ideas that I hadn’t expected.

The first question was expected: How long had I lived at this retirement community? My answer was, “Since the summer of 2011.” Questions that followed were about Mary’s Woods and the Lake Oswego community. Although I’ve lived in this community for lots of years, my replies generally began with “I’m not sure I remember, but ... “

Some questions that I couldn’t answer included: Was the lake manmade? And when? When was the city first formed? Was it always a residential suburb? What was it earlier? When was “Lake” added to its original name and why? Did a passenger train ever come here? What happened to it?

The Lake Oswego Review recently offered tempting bits about the city’s past. The headline on the front page of a recent August issue read, “Changes proposed for historic Oswego Lake island estate.” Did you know an “island estate” existed?

Another news item in the paper read, “Wednesday night hearing will determine fate of Carman House.” What is that, and where is it?

Although many residents are disinterested in local history, we should know about the city we live in. Our property taxes and fees pay for utilities, city services, parks and various activities. A call to 911 brings the Lake Oswego Fire Department. The Lake Oswego Public Library serves many. As residents we elect the members of the city council and benefit (or some say we suffer) from their decisions.

I’ve lived in this community for lots of years, and I know that all of us can benefit from knowing our community. I look forward to hearing your comments.

Stories of Positive Aging is a semimonthly column on senior issues written by Lake Oswego resident Ardis Stevenson, author of “Facing Aging, Finding Answers” and “Dusty’s War.” She can be reached by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by regular mail at 17440 Holy Names Drive Lake Oswego, OR 97034.

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