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'Orygun' bumper sticker creator rooting for a Ducks win

No doubt you've seen the sweatshirts, socks and bumper stickers that spell out "Oregon" phonetically as O-R-Y-G-U-N.
Harold Evenson

ID=21404301PORTLAND, Ore. -- No doubt you've seen the sweatshirts, socks and bumper stickers that spell out "Oregon" phonetically as O-R-Y-G-U-N.

It's been helping people pronounce the state and the school better since the 1960s. The man behind it is, of course, one of the biggest Duck fans ever.

Harold, better known as Hal, Evenson is a 1968 graduate of the University of Oregon. He was the original creator of the decals because he said his air force buddies could never pronounce Oregon right.

The 72-year-old grew up in Eugene and is a retired state worker living in Salem. For Duck games, he dresses in all green and yellow, with his own custom-made jersey that says "Orygun" down the side.

He was at the 2010 Rose Bowl when his Ducks lost to Ohio State, but he's confident Oregon will pull out the win this time in the National Championship.

He has such a history with the school, he was in the same North Eugene High School class with coach Mark Helfrich's father, Mike Helfrich.

ID=21404361Even more incredible, is that Evenson has had the rights to his "ORYGUN" license plate since 1973, right after vanity plates came out.

Evenson had spent a few years in the Air Force and returned to UO to graduate in 1968. That year he decided to make a statement decal for his car. He thought first about misspelling the word "school", but it didn't look good.

So he bought a sticker that said "University of Oregon" and took the Y and U and put it in Oregon as a play on our still-often misprounounced state.

"I thought you know, when I was in the service, nobody could pronounce Oregon so I thought, here's the Y and U out of university, and so I took a ruler and lined it up on the back of my car," Evenson explains. "My wife at the time, worked at the phone compny, and said 'There's some people at the office who want to know where they can get one of these decals'. So I told her to hold on, I would make some."

Soon, he says more friends and total strangers started wanting the stickers. So he paid to print 500 of them and made an exclusive deal with the UO student bookstore in Eugene, making about $500 a month on the stickers.

He also made a deal to sell sweatshirts with the word on it at the former Villa Mart store in Eugene and sold 3,600 in the first week, he says.

That year, his story of the misspelled bumper sticker made it into the Eugene Register-Guard newspaper and the University of Oregon student paper. But sadly, that's where the money fizzled out.

"I applied for a copyright and the first page of the copyright manual says you cannot copyright the unusual spellings of state's names," explains Evenson. "I sent it in anyway because I don't take no for an answer, and they sent me back a copy of that exact page and a 'No thanks'."

​Evenson jokes that he might have been able to live off the royalties from his bumper sticker creation, but he doesn't mind.

Since retiring, Evenson has filled his days with a lot of volunteering in Salem. He's the president of the men's club at his golf course, he teaches golf for the Special Olympics, serves as a court appointed special victim's advocate, writes poetry and is passionate about his fitness group.

He's glad people have fun with his version of "Oregon".

"I'm just grateful for all the fun I've had with this. All the good things other people enjoy about it."

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