The house is filled with the sound of scurrying little feet. There is a fish tank full of frogs near the dining room table and fake green snot on the kitchen floor. A spiderman action figure sits on the couch. A transformer lays in the bathtub. Amber Casey, a 24- year-old single mom, chases her son playfully through the halls.
In the living room are signs of Casey’s other life. The one where she’s not a mom. There’s a picture on the wall of Casey, her hair slicked into a tight bun. Inside a closet is a row of neatly pressed dark blue uniforms. Casey is a sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and it has not been easy being a woman in a man’s world.
Casey was born in San Jose, California on April 3, 1987. She played with chalk, jumped rope and went to public school. She was raised by her mother and her father wasn’t always around after her parents divorced. Her mother did her best to provide for her family and worked nights to support them. When times were tough, Casey lived with her best friend.
“I had a happy childhood. I was a normal girl,” says Casey. “Well, I did like to dress up in camouflage. I did that all the time. I thought it was the coolest thing.”
The Glenwood is a Eugene staple, encompassing the city’s unique laid back and artistic style. When dining at either of its two locations, customers know they may encounter a long line out the door.
“I would recommend The Glenwood because of the great food, reasonable prices and the great staff,” said Destiny Henderson, a Eugene resident for 21 years.
The Glenwood first opened its doors in the 1970s and was originally owned by a local couple. It was then purchased by Jacqui Willey. She moved its South Eugene location and two years later opened another restaurant on the University of Oregon’s campus. She has been Glenwood’s owner for over 35 years.Currently, both Glenwood restaurants are run by Willey and her son.
The Glenwood has a reputation for its breakfast, but its menu ranges from burgers to vegetarian alternatives, with many meals under $10. Its large portions and affordable prices make this place a favorite.
“I’ve been a customer here for years and I’ve never had an order messed up and I’ve never had bad service,” said Henderson.
According to the National Restaurant Association, one in ten working Americans work in restaurants and restaurants employ 170,100 people in Oregon. The restaurant industry was worth over $600 billion in 2011 and is estimated to continue to grow. Statistics show that Americans love to dine out, however nearly 90 percent of restaurants close down within their first two years.
Edson Clements, Willey’s son and business partner, knows keeping Glenwood going isn’t easy. Although his restaurant has a loyal following of customers, he believes their success is due to the environment they provide.
“We want to be a place where families can eat. You’re not going to find televisions and hard alcohol here,” said Clements.
I’m riding around in a golf cart at my grandma’s house in Sweet Home, Oregon. She lives on a farm, with her house just steps from the Santiam River. She is a very energetic 83 year old and uses the golf cart to zip around her property. It gets filled with shovels, gardening gloves, and flowers to be planted. She sees some weeds and she tells me to stop. We pull over and get to work.
“Breea always remember, we need to get the weeds so that they don't stop the flowers from growing. We want the flowers to see the sun and we won’t let these weeds stop them. I can’t wait to see these flowers bloom and look so beautiful,” she says to me.
My grandma’s house was always a sanctuary for me growing up. As a child I lived in California and made trips up to my grandparents place in Oregon. When my family relocated to Oregon City, my brother and I would fight during the hour and a half car drives from our house to Sweet Home. As a college student I’d blast music to make the drive from Eugene to her house a little faster, while taking shortcuts through the back country roads.
I loved being at my grandmother’s house; her house made me feel free. I could smell the clean air and be out in a wide open space. It was always just what I needed. It helped me forget about all my stresses and reminded me what was most important in life: love and family.
My grandma was born in Nebraska and lived through the depression. She traveled the world as a flight attendant and was a Rosie The Riveter during World War II. After the war, she lived in Germany where she met and married my grandpa. They moved back to the states where she taught school and raised her family. After she retired she taught the special-ed class at her church. And this was how her life was. Go, go, go, go. She lived every day to the fullest.