Sleeping bums, backpacked guys in bamboo shades, and seemingly out-of-place new housing developments filled the streets of the Jefferson Westside Neighbors district of Eugene this afternoon. Joined on the exploration by fellow classmate Melissa, who has some local knowledge of the area, the tour began as we departed our bus at the downtown station.
With no real agenda, and no knowledge of where I am in this town anyway, my goal was to take it in as it came. Passing a furniture store where Melissa told me she wants to buy a stuffed duck they have on display, I poked my head in and asked how much it was going for. We were quickly confronted by an angry saleswoman who told us, “It’s priceless and It’s not for sale!” We felt she was just annoyed because we interrupted her lunch and didn’t want to buy an expensive sofa.
The next stop on the impromptu tour was the WOW Hall. A little research revealed that this stands for Woodmen of the World. I’m still trying to figure out what this exactly means. The exterior resembles an odd church, off-white and not too large, with small steps leading up to the dark double doors. I wanted to know more about this place, so I asked a guy outside of the Florence Apartments on Willamette. I picked him out for no real reason, other than that his choice in footwear happened to be high-topped moccasins. He told me the WOW Hall, most nights of the week, is the spot see some decent live music. The genres range from Hip-Hop to Bluegrass, but supposedly the street kids attending offer the most entertainment. “Sometimes it’s distracting and a little annoying, but most of the time they’re cool,” he told me while sucking down a freshly lit cigarette. After a short chat about what else has been happening in the neighborhood, he told me that the Veterans Memorial Building down the street or the McDonald Theatre can also be good spots for music.
Intrigued by the sound of the McDonald, I made my way over just in time to snap a photo of a guy who might have been sleeping, or might have been dead. Either way, it offered something interesting for me to capture. After some more roaming and a few photos, I wrapped up my afternoon tour of JWN, reassured that there are plenty of interesting spots to check out in this part of town.