This Thursday, May 7, The Simpsons will achieve what I Love Lucy and Lassie never did.
The U.S. Postal Service will release a series of stamps this week to make the 20-year-old Simpsons the only TV show to be featured as the sole subject of a stamp set while still in primetime production.
“This is the biggest and most adhesive honor The Simpsons has ever received,” show creator Matt Groening says in a statement on the USPS website.
Broadcast in more than 60 countries, The Simpsons has picked up 24 Emmy awards. But as most Portlanders know, Groening also has honored his hometown by naming many of the characters in his fictional Springfield after Portland streets (maybe we can look for a Chávez character in the years to come).
That, in turn, has immortalized across the globe the Portlanders whose names were employed for our city’s streets. But who were these local characters (none of whom, sadly, get their own stamps…yet)? After hours in the Oregon Historical Society’s archives and incredible help from its staff, these vital questions can now be answered. Here’s how Portland’s historical figures match up with their Simpsons namesakes.
Asa Lawrence Lovejoy (a founder of Portland)
Defining moment: Owned the first plot of land in Portland; responsible for naming the city in 1845. He wanted to name the area Boston, but he lost a coin toss to his friend Francis Pettygrove, who was from Portland, Maine.
What else you should know: A lawyer by trade, he was one of Portland’s few highly educated pioneers. Before homesteading Portland, Lovejoy, a dashing adventurer, was captured by Sioux Indians near Independence Rock, Wyo., but was bought back by his companions for tobacco and trinkets.
Quote: Allegedly said: “We will call this place Boston.”
Reverend Timothy Lovejoy (spiritual leader)
Defining moment: Realizing he would have to deal with Ned Flanders for the rest of his life.
What else you should know: Bored and conflicted, Lovejoy is sometimes deeply pious and other times deeply indifferent to his faith and job as pastor. Lovejoy was once an optimistic young man before becoming disillusioned, and now cares mostly about model trains.
Quote: “I remember another gentle visitor from the heavens…who came to earth...and then died...only to be brought back to life again. And his name was E.T., the extra-terrestrial. I love that little guy.”
L.P.W. Quimby (saloon owner and politician)
Defining moment: Opened the Hotel Quimby on Northwest 4th and Couch in 1884, with supposed “enhanced services” for the lonely man. His hotel’s reputation “extended for a great distance on the Pacific Coast, the service and accommodation being such as to delight the heart of the traveler.”
What else you should know: A jack of all trades and business, Quimby dabbled in many ventures, including politics.
Quote: “What am I doing now? What is it Shakespeare says about one man in his time playing many parts?”
Mayor Joe Quimby (womanizing mayor)
Defining moment: Was elected mayor of Springfield, which allowed him to abuse his power and make unscrupulous profits.
What else you should know: A skirt-chasing opportunist, Quimby cares little for the city he governs and views the rule of law as beneath him (this could never happen in Portland’s real-life City Hall). He remained popular with voters.
Quote: “You can’t seriously want to ban alcohol. It tastes great, makes women appear more attractive, and makes a person virtually invulnerable to criticism.”
James Terwilliger (blacksmith)
Defining moment: One of the area’s first settlers, in February 1846 he opened the first business in Portland: a blacksmith shop on 1st and Morrison.
What else you should know: A tall, broad-shouldered man, he had strong moral and political convictions with the Republican Party—at 80, stricken with a broken collarbone, he was placed in a cart so he could be carried to the polls to vote.
Quote: None available.
Sideshow Bob Terwilliger (evil genius)
Defining moment: When he turned to a life of crime after trying to frame Krusty the Clown and take over his show.
What else you should know: Brilliant, egotistical, evil and plagued with bad luck, Terwilliger had well-organized plans that always seemed to fall apart. A devout Republican, Sideshow Bob was once elected mayor of Springfield.
Quote: “I did once try to kill the world’s greatest lover, but then I realized there were laws against suicide.”
Edward Smith Kearney (U.S. marshal)
Defining moment: Appointed U.S. marshal to Oregon by President James Garfield in 1881.
What else you should know: Tough-looking and -talking, Kearney enforced the rule of law with undeniable force and devotion. He was also compassionate, and made generous gifts to the infant Portland Library and the Children’s Home.
Quote: None available.
Kearney Zzyzwicz (overaged bully)
Defining moment: When it is revealed he is actually substantially older than his classmates: he drives a car, shaves regularly, went to prison and has a child from a previous marriage.
What else you should know: Kearney is part of the gang that terrorizes Springfield Elementary.
Quote: “I would like three of your finest, cheapest cigars. Here’s my I.D., which confirms my adultivity.”
Similarity? Not a chance.
Captain George H. Flanders (evangelical ship captain)
Defining moment: Modernized Portland’s wharfs; transformed the city into “the great seaport of the Pacific.”
What else you should know: Flanders was a deeply religious man whose calling in life included spreading his faith and “moralizing” the seamen he associated with.
Quote: His dying words were, “If it is moral I will do it, if it is not I won’t do it.”
Ned Flanders (dogmatic good neighbor)
Defining moment: When he refused to call the loser of a bet with Homer the one who “loses,” and instead used the phrase “the one who doesn’t win.”
What else you should know: Ned lives by the three C’s: clean living, chewing thoroughly and a daily dose of vitamin C…church! He is defined by his Christianity for good or ill, and can best be described as “irritatingly optimistic and cheerful.”
Quote: “ I’ve done everything the Bible says…even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff.”
Similarity? Yes, amen.