EVERYDAY PEOPLE: The not-so-secret life of a CREST director
Bob Carlson has worked in the West Linn-Wilsonville School District for more than 25 years, 17 of those as director of the CREST program. He lives in southwest Portland with his wife and just retired in October.
What's the most questionable hair style/fashion you've donned in your life?
I had the whole mullet thing going for a while; my wife kind of encouraged it. I said no but she said it looked good that way. In retrospect ... it wasn't so fine. In eighth-grade I had those slippery polyester shirts and a light blue leisure suit that I think I picked out myself.
What's your favorite travel destination?
The coolest place I ever visited was Indonesia. There's such a wide variety of things there: great beaches, interesting art and culture, religion and friendly people. It's a great place to be active. We just spent a month in Italy, just around the Florence region. There was a lot of wine involved. And the museums were incredible. We're already thinking about northern Spain, maybe a biking tour. I like having opportunities to get out and move around. And there's something about mountains that draws me. When I was 19 I went to tour Europe and Portugal was one of my favorite places.
Who's the most famous person you've ever met?
Jane Goodall; she was invited to open CREST because one of her grant writers lived here. She's been back three times since. I was a bit nervous meeting her but she's so easy to be around — really engaging and makes you feel comfortable. You know how politicians look like they're listening to you when you speak but they're really not? Jane gives you her absolute attention. I drove her around town when she was here and we'd chit-chat.
What's your biggest phobia?
I definitely don't have the nerve to jump out of an airplane. I'm pretty adventurous but there's something about all that open air; there's nothing grounding. I also don't care much for big roller coasters; maybe it's the lack of control.
What are you watching on TV right now? (or reading)
I haven't watched TV for a year. We never even had cable. I just read "Born A Crime" by Trevor Noah. It's about his childhood in South Africa, just fascinating stories about growing up in an environment so different from southwest Portland (where I grew up).
Among your friends and family, what are you known for?
Gardening. People who know me put me in the obsessed category.
What's your most useless talent?
I can touch my tongue to my nose.
What is your favorite sing-loud-in-the-car song?
Stevie Wonder maybe? I don't sing much; I'm not good at it. I guess I don't listen to music much anymore, even though I love it.
Which table did you sit at in the high school cafeteria?
I had friends from every group so I was everywhere.
What's the stupidest purchase you ever made?
I had a Volkswagon van that broke down constantly. They are a lot of fun to drive but they have so many engine problems. It was fun for the family but not the best purchase.
Who would portray you in the movie of your life?
I used to get told by the kids that I looked like Robin Williams — but hopefully they didn't mean Mrs. Doubtfire! Steve Erwin, the crocodile hunter, would have probably been a better fit.
What superhero do you most identify with?
Batman. I've always had a thing about fairness.
If you could pick one specific memory from your time working in Wilsonville, what would it be?
The first time I took my students to Memorial Park we went to the creek down there — it was so exciting to explore with them. It stands out in a lot of other memories.
What's your number one bucket list item?
I want to go to Alaska. Given how much I like nature it seems like such an amazing place.
If I could have one item on a deserted island, it would be . . .
My wife. We're a pretty good team — the things she's good at I'm bad at and vice-versa.