Sunday, November 08, 2009

Schnitzered again

Okay, it’s time to clear your brain for a name association.

I’m going to say a word and you are going to tell me what you associate with it.

The word is …


And the right answer is … “your grandparents’ generation.”

Missed that one, did you?

You may need to check in with Jordan Schnitzer, who recently dedicated the “Simon and Helen Director Park” in downtown Portland.

Turns out that Simon and Helen were Jordan’s maternal grandparents.

According to a Jewish Review article about the park’s dedication, Schnitzer told the crowd “I hope that when you come here you’ll think of your grandparents and how you came to be in this park.”

Got that? “Director” = “your grandparents.”

Schnitzer’s family name resounds throughout the city and state on everything the pioneer family helped build, which is a lot. The Schnitzers have money. And they spend a lot of it on the arts and civic good works.

Oregonians are grateful to them many times over.

But the Schnitzers have this thing about names. They can’t get beyond their own.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I can’t get beyond their name.

I go to concerts at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.

I drive by the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in Hillsdale nearly every day, and it is now on the “Schnitzer Family Campus.”

I go to Eugene and am told by the big green freeway exit sign that the off ramp will take me to the Jordan Schnitzer Art Gallery.

Twice a week after Scrabble, I take my mother-in-law home to her apartment at the Rose Schnitzer manor.

I go to have my eyes checked once every three months at the Thelma & Gilbert Schnitzer Comprehensive Glaucoma Center.

I find this odd. You’d think some Schnitzer might step forward and say, “Enough already! Name the glaucoma center after Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder.”

On the day of the park dedication, I walked through the park as workers prepared it for the ceremony. I was fully expecting the Schnitzer name to be somewhere on it. After all, Jordan forked over nearly $2 million to help pay for it.

The Jewish Review story, headlined “Jordan Schnitzer leads dedication of Simon and Helen Director Park,” revealed Schnitzer-Director connection — and Jordan Schnitzer’s hope that his family name will trigger reminders of our own families.

For all that, the story did reveal some evolution in Jordan’s thinking about names. Turns out it was his idea to name park’s central fountain “Teachers Fountain,” and here I quote from the story, “in gratitude to his mentors in the Portland Schools.”

“His mentors”? When we visit the fountain are we to think of Jordan Schnitzer’s teachers?

Here I think reporter Amy Kaufman muddled things because the very next sentence is a quote from Schnitzer. “We are so indebted to teachers and they get so little recognition…. As we unveil this fountain, think of those who made such a difference to you.”

Right on, Jordan!

And, just a reminder, when you visit Director Park, remember your grandparents — forget Hitchcock, Kubrick and Fellini.

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