EUGENE, Ore. – It’s a slow news day in Jefferson Westside, where the weather this Monday was more virulent than the action. In the mind of Carol Jameson, manager of the Monroe Street Cafe, contentedness is the neighborhood consensus.
“There was a thing going around where someone was breaking into people’s houses,” Jameson lamented between detailing the break-in at her house, “but no real crime problem since May of last year.”
Objections to the EmX?
“Thirteenth [Street] is the main road for trucks,” she noted. “It’d be too much traffic. It gets loud as it is. But I don’t see that happening here.”
Park problems? Objections to urban renewal? Unruly college students?
“This is a great neighborhood. I lived here for 15 years.” The break-in of her house cost her jewelry and a VCR, among other sundries, though the thieves left a laptop. “It was on the couch,” she explained. Though unsure of their identity, Jameson did what seemed natural: She told her neighbors.
Jefferson Westside is a tight-knit community, and Jameson is an example of why. A bright and endearing mother of two, she misses Jefferson Westside. No longer a resident of the neighborhood, her job at the Monroe Street Cafe brings her back, and she is still an active member here. On a busy day, she said the Cafe brings in two to three non-regulars. She greets the others who come on a first-name basis. Like many bars – Monroe Street Cafe’s main attraction is its selection of beer, as the purchases of most patrons suggested – each night features a special or an event, when according to Jameson, the Cafe gets busy. “The Gentlemen’s Club,” as she called them, is a group of older men who come to taste wine.
Simple intersections like these stitch the neighborhood together, and when Jameson discussed the theft at her house, her neighbors stood behind her. They watched her back and they watched one another’s. They stuck together when the plan to build a hospital at the Lane County Fairgrounds threatened the peace and quiet. They fixed their wary eyes there again, just in case, when a college student informed the neighborhood of a party to be hosted there. They banded against an urban renewal project. “People were pretty upset about that,” Jameson said about the green townhouses.
Truth is, controversy doesn’t show in Jefferson Westside. Portrayed here is the face of benign suburbia. Families live, children grow and life continues with some modest bumps along the way.
Jameson recounted an incident in the past six months in which some foreign students were tasered by police outside their residence a couple blocks from the Cafe because they didn’t speak English. A regular nearby chimed in, “I didn’t realize that was a neighborhood issue.” On her way out, Jameson brushed past to attend to the customers at the counter. -Jonathan Stull