Peggy Wolfheart was rescued from Valley River Center yesterday after the lifelong Eugene resident got lost on her way to The Kiva and found herself smack in the middle of Eugene’s largest mall.
Wolfheart, who had never before left downtown Eugene, says she quickly became overwhelmed after entering the retail shopping center.
“Who knew that anything existed beyond Skinner Butte?” she says, adding that she had heard of north Eugene but avoided the area because it was too “commercial.”
Frightened by the shops full of factory garments and clusters of young people in baggy jeans and Billabong shirts, Wolfheart says she finally broke down after stumbling upon a storefront devoted entirely to mass-marketed, non-organic, non-gluten-free cinnamon buns made with artificial ingredients and coated in high-fructose corn syrup.
“I thought maybe I’d gone to hell,” she said, “Or Orange County.”
At this point, Wolfheart curled up in a ball on the floor and tried to commune with the spirit of the Willamette River to help guide her the hell out of the mall.
Clearly disoriented, Wolfheart was approached by a concerned citizen.
“She looked like she had just been at Oregon Country Fair, Burning Man and Lillith Fair back-to-back,” says Eric Wood, a professional Ducks fan who frequents the shopping center. Wood noted Wolfheart’s Keen sandals, dusty hemp top and "unnecessarily" long, dreaded braids and decided that she “wasn’t from around these parts.”
First, Wood purchased a neon yellow shirt from The Duck Store and instructed Wolfheart to put it on. “My first move was to get her to blend in,” he explained.
He then escorted Wolfheart to the nearest exit and guided her to the parking lot, where she could see the river and nearby Delta Ponds.
“The cry of the great blue heron called me home,” Wolfheart says, but really she just followed the scent of marijuana over the Greenway Bridge and back into “Eugene proper.”
Wood says he didn’t have the heart to inform Wolfheart about the existence of Oakway Center. “That poor woman had had enough for one day,” he said. “Imagine trying to tell her about Costco. It might’ve done her in.” — Martigan Ufgood III