Dive into the remarkable history of Klickitat Street with us and ‘Jeopardy!’s’ Ken Jennings as we celebrate the life of late literary legend Beverly Cleary.
“RIP to a real one. Pouring out a can of Woofies dog food on Klickitat Street,” Jennings shares to Twitter Friday.
His sharp reference comes as news of Beverly Cleary’s death echoes throughout the world. The literary giant died March 25, 2021 at her California home. The world, however, is just learning of the 104-year-old legend’s death Friday per a HarperCollins press release.
Beverly Cleary fans know the ‘Jeopardy!’ star’s reference in an instant, too. “Klickitat Street” is, among many things, where Ramona Quimby, Beatrice a.k.a “Beezus,” and Henry Huggins grew up in the late author’s timeless series.
Beverly Cleary: The Very Real History of Klickitat Street
Klickitat Steet is, too, a very real lane in Portland. Cleary spent much time in the Oregon city after her childhood move there with the family.
A young Beverly Cleary grew up nearby on Hancock Street. She would study at the city’s grammar school, with the harrowing experience showing her first hand the struggles of young readers. It would shape her – and her work – for years to come.
“It reminded me of the sound of knitting needles,” she told the New York Times of the street name in a 1995 interview, then 79.
Beverly Cleary was born on April 12, 1916, in McMinville, Oregon, as Beverly Bunn. The prolific author would spend her early life on her family’s homestead in Yamhill, Oregon, before making the move to the big city. This, too, would greatly shape her worldview.
“I think I was very much like Ramona when I lived on the farm and was wild and free,” she continued to the Times. “But in the first grade, I had a really cruel teacher, Miss Falb. She quickly turned me into Ellen Tebbits, a rather anxious little girl.”
Cleary’s love of literature stemmed from her mother, who set up a small library in their hometown. She would herself, of course, go on to become a librarian. Her next stop? Selling untold millions of copies of her timeless children’s series, with the first centering around Klickitat Street: 1950’s ‘Henry Huggins.’
The street would go on to feature prominently in her children’s-literature-altering ‘Ramona Quimby’ series, too. With so many of her famous characters residing on the Portland street, it should come as no surprise that a lovely garden – featuring statues of Beverly Cleary’s most beloved characters – stands on Klickitat Street to this day.