Term began as insult, became badge of honor

June 22, 2005

The 2006 United Way “calendar boys” might be wearing Ugly Local t-shirts on the Fourth of July — but the logo is not intended to cast an aspersion on their looks.

“The guys are not offended by being the ugly locals because they are all so cute,” said Leslie Cogswell, United Way board member.

United Way has decided to revisit the “urban legend” as a fundraiser tied to calendar sales (see "Ugly Locals’ dress down for United Way".) The Ugly Local movement began in 1986 as a new culture brought by windsurfers clashed on some levels with the rural lifestyle of many native residents. The story is said to have started when a longtime resident standing in the check out line at Safeway heard a visiting windsurfer mutter something about the “ugly locals” who called Hood River home.

Cogswell said it is unknown whether the comment was really made, or merely imagined. However, the tale riled and entertained local resident Jim Kelter, who immediately decided to produce a t-shirt that illustrated the insult. The design of a sleepy-eyed farmer wearing a “Paraquat” hat was drawn by Bette Johnson, a well-known Hood River cartoonist.

For several years, the image became a frequently seen symbol of pride for citizens with a sense of humor. Other images were eventually produced, including ugly locals dressed in “wet suits” made up of raincoats and frumpy hats. At one time the phrase “In Hoc Loco Hibernamus,” meaning “We Stay the Winter” accompanied the cartoon image. Eventually, the acrimony between the newcomers and natives died down as many windsurfers settled into the community and became “ugly locals” themselves. So, the t-shirt logos were shelved and forgotten about for many years.

Cogswell said it just seemed like a fun idea to revisit the theme as a new twist on the United Way’s annual fundraising campaign. The 2005 rendition of the t-shirts will be sold at the Fourth of July gathering in Jackson Park.

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