By Travis Loose
EUGENE, Ore. — They’re connected, they watch each other’s backs and they’re tired of having a bad reputation.
Stretching only 1.4 miles North to South and 1 mile East to West, Northwest Eugene’s Trainsong neighborhood is Eugene’s smallest neighborhood. But Trainsong’s residents take pride in their little community, and – despite its somewhat disheveled appearance – they will defend it as their own.
Jon Crawford, a Trainsong resident for the past six years, is a verbally colorful man. He’s older, with a stubble beard that’s graying in places around his chin.
“Some people think that this is the ghetto part of town, but we have police patrol,” Crawford said. “Anytime there’s idiots around, they take care of ‘em.”
Crawford said the Eugene police department makes visits to Trainsong at least three times a day, and will generally come if called.
“If there’s any idiots doing anything, the police patrol will scare ‘em off,” he said.
But the police can’t be in Trainsong all day, every day.
He expressed annoyance with the transients who make camps up and down the train tracks on the neighborhood’s West side.
Though it has gotten better since the railroad came through and cleared out the tent city that had been growing, occasionally there will still be problems, he said.
With the tracks laying in such close proximity to the houses, he said, there have been incidents when a transient will setup camp for the night in a resident’s backyard.
“I’ll run ‘em out of here real quick,” he said. “This community, we take care of ‘em.”
Adam Miller has lived in the same home on Trainsong’s South end for 14 years.
“It was really bad when we first moved in,” Miller said. “Then it straightened up quite a bit with the neighborhood watch.”
Though no longer a part of the group, he said that the 30 members of the watch meet regularly at the neighborhood church – which rests in the center of Trainsong.
Troy Hatch has run a pawnshop on Trainsong’s West side for going on seven years.
He said that as a result of Trainsong’s lower income and drug abuse problems, the neighborhood’s reputation does suffer.
“The main thing we do here is loans,” he said of his pawnshop on Highway 99N.
For some residents, making it from paycheck to paycheck is a challenge, he said.
Does he see the loans repaid?
“It’s amazing, but for the most part we do,” he said. “I’m willing to bet it’s 90 to 95 percent [who pay back their loans].”
Money troubles, transient troubles and drug troubles are all common complaints among the people of Trainsong.
But those people – the actual residents of the neighborhood – say that the community is made up of good Eugenians.
They say they can count on each other.
And in the world today, even in a place like Trainsong, that certainly counts for something.