Everything Except What I Was Looking For

You’d think — if you were to think about it at all — that the elusive part of writing a ghost story would be pinning down the facts about the ghost, itself.   But, I’m here to tell you that when the ghost in question is roaming around in a historic building or causing consternation at a notable landmark, there are other specifics that sometimes need pinning down.

Like the nuts and bolts (or wires and poles?) of electricity.  Specifically, I’m looking for the details of electricity arriving in Ocean Park. Long ago, I read that Adelaide Taylor of the Taylor Hotel held a community fundraiser to bring street lights to Ocean Park — probably in 1936-ish — but, look though I might,  I can’t find the reference right now.

In a somewhat related way, I also know through family correspondence that electricity came to Oysterville, thanks to FDR’s rural electrification project, in 1936.  And, I know from an article in Pacific County Historical Society’s Sou’wester magazine, that our P.U.D. District # 2 was formed in 1937.  And, in that same article there is reference to the Willapa Electric Company which had served Raymond, South Bend and Willapa Valley communities since 1913!  Wow! 1913!  Twenty-three years before Oysterville got their first electric lightbulb!

Andrews’ Store, Oysterville c. 1920 — note telephone/electrical lines

Although… my mother remembered that her father had a generator of some sort in 1926 and when the family moved to Redlands for my grandfather’s health, that generator was given to Bert Andrews.  Helen Heckes told it this way in Marie Oesting’s Oysterville Cemetery Sketches:  “As I remember the story, I think Harry Espy put up the money for it, and Bert ran this little Delco electrical system.  We made an arrangement with him to get electricity and one drop light in the kitchen until 10 o’clock.  Then he shut everything off at 10.”  That’s when Bert and Minnie went to bed.  Lights out!

But when did the average household in Ocean Park have access to electricity?  Where did it come from?  Those are the questions I’m wrestling with as I work on a sequel to Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  There’s lots of great information out there, but pinning down just what I need is as difficult as getting a handle on those wily ghosts.  Shocking to think about, eh?

One Response to “Everything Except What I Was Looking For”

  1. Nancy A Holden says:

    I don’t about the electricity but I do know about the Oysterville store. My Grand Mother
    got gas there when I was a child. That was in the forties and our cabin in Ocean Park
    had kerosene lamps. I think that was by choice however.

Leave a Reply