Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

Some Circles Have Sharp Corners

Sunday, April 23rd, 2017

Azmi Shawa

As I looked around the room yesterday during Azmi Shawa’s ‘Celebration of Life,’ I involuntarily took note of all the familiar faces in the crowd.  People we’ve known for years and years.  People ‘of an age’ – as was Azmi.  I couldn’t help but wonder which of us would be attending similar celebrations for the next in line.

And I thought about circles.   Congruent and concentric and intersecting circles like I learned about in Plain Geometry with Mr. Patterson in 1950 at San Rafael High School.  Circles of friendship and circles of influence, circles of sharing – the circle of life.  We encircled one another with our arms – hugs of caring and hugs of shared memories.

Willie Marsh

Not many hours afterward, Willie Marsh died.  This time, though, my thoughts cut right to the chase: “Too young!  Too many lives left to touch!  Too soon!”  Here was a circle that had an unbearably sharp corner.  Right now, it seems as though it’s a corner that can never be turned.  Perhaps the community’s many hugs will help — hugs for Berta and Marian and for all of Willie’s big family and many friends.

The Best Approach

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Jimmy Kemmer, Judy Heckes and ‘Aunt Rye’ at the Oysterville Approach, c. 1940

Here on the Peninsula, when we talk about one approach versus another, we usually aren’t talking golf strategies or planning a sales campaign.  We’re talking beach approaches – the traditional ingress/egress roadways to and from the ocean beach.

At Oysterville – and probably at other early settlements, as well – the approach road was originally constructed for wagons and stagecoaches that carried freight and passengers from one end of the Peninsula to the other.  Travelers journeyed along the only available north/south highway – the hard sands of the weather beach.  Each ‘approach’ was marked by a large, clearly visible sign constructed in the area of the primary dune.  Or, more accurately, as clearly visible as a sign could be made, considering the constraints of stormy weather, wind-blown sand, fog or any of the usual constraints and challenges.

Winter 1983 Sou’wester

Communities took pride in their approach Signs.  When I was a child, the sign said “Come Again” as you left Oysterville Road and drove onto the beach.  And, coming back, the big letters that spelled OYSTERVILLE may have been the first word I ever could read.  Community members took pride in constructing approach signs that were distinctive.  In 1983, the Sou’wester featured a photograph of Ocean Park’s “Sunset Arch” and provided the following information about it:

This old Ocean Park beach approach sign was dubbed the “Sunset Arch”. It stood at the east end of Bay Avenue and was erected in the spring of 1932. It replaced a weather-beaten sign which stood at the approach for many years. Two local clubs called the Nit-Wits, a men’s club, and S. I. O (Six in One), a women’s club, joined forces to build it. Club members were Les Wilson, Bob Delay, Henry Edmonds Jr., Bit Wins Sr., John Morehead Jr., Walker Tompkins, Lucille Wickberg (Mrs. Les Wilson), Edith Lundquist Winn (Mrs. Bill Winn), Alva Slagle, Nancy Peterson, Sharlie Peterson, and Edna Burden. Les Wilson says his club feted a fir tree, sawed the trunk into three pieces, and transported it to the dunes at the approach. After several failures, the sign was finally erected. Walker Tompkins painted it to read “Ocean Park” on the west side and “Sunset View” on the east side. Henry Edmonds says that Charles “Fitzy” Fitzpatrick set up his camera and waited for two hours to get a photograph of a car driving under it. This photo, without a car, was also taken by Fitzpatrick. The “Sunset Arch” finally rotted in the late 1940s and the sign was replaced by a new community group led by Lyle Clark in 1949. The new sign utilized the metal masts of the wrecked ship Arrow. One of the masts still stands, but it is now badly rusted. In December1981 the North Beach Peninsula Association instated a beautiful new sign at the beach approach.  The legend “Ocean Park, 1883, 46° 30′ W., 124°2′ N.” is etched in the wood. 

Long Beach Approach, Historic

I understand that nowadays, replacing an approach sign isn’t all that ‘easy.’  There are right-of-ways and easements and laws and liability issues to consider.  Estimates to replace the Seaview approach sign (damaged by a vehicle) are in the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars range.  In our complicated, litigious society, KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) no longer exists and liability rather than visibility determines the best approach.  A sad commentary, indeed.

…and the town’s filling up!

Friday, April 14th, 2017

Headed for the Beach

In Oysterville, it feels a little like it did thirty or forty years ago when most of the part-time residents would show up on holiday weekends.  Nowadays, with our ever-increased mobility, home-owners and their friends and family seem to come and go whenever the spirit moves – not necessarily for special occasions only.  But… yesterday, as the town started filling up, I had a little bit of déjà vu.

            For starters, I think the Accuardi family is planning to be here in force to celebrate Fred and Gail.  They have sold their Red Cottage after twenty years of careful stewardship and their large family is gathering to wish them well and to say ‘arrivederci to Oysterville’ – at least to this chapter.  Martie and Steve at the Captain Stream house will continue the family’s connection with the village with energy, enthusiasm and next generations – “as God intended” as our friend Te would say.

Line-Up at the Dock

In the Red House (not to be confused with the Red Cottage) Cousins Abby and Dan Ronco and kids (the sixth generation of Espys) have arrived with friends.  Their plan is to have an Easter Egg Hunt throughout the town on Sunday.  I hope the weather cooperates, but knowing my intrepid cousins, a little rain and wind won’t slow them down.

Other folks are in town to take advantage of the long overdue clam season.  We haven’t been out but we understand the digging is great.  We’ve already been offered some freshly cleaned clams from neighbors Tucker and Carol!  (Sometimes there are advantages to being old or infirm.)

Beach Driving

And, of course, there are all of the ‘regulars’ –those spirited neighbors who are here every-weekend-no-matter-what. Plus, those who live here full-time but have been away for parts of the winter.  Add us all up and the town seems a-bustle.  As my folks used to say, “It feels like Old Home Week.”  Throw in a bit of intermittent sunshine and we can almost imagine that spring and summer are on their way after all!

Speaking of land and luck and the ‘p’ word…

Saturday, March 11th, 2017

Croquet and Picnic, 2012

At our Friday Gathering last night, our upcoming 30th anniversary was mentioned.  Actually, it’s not for another six months but, given our slowed pace of mind and body these days, it’s probably time to start thinking about it.  We’ve talked vaguely about having a huge potluck picnic and just inviting all our friends – maybe announce it in the paper like people used to do in the old days.

“I’d be careful about the ‘potluck’ part of the announcement,” one of our wiseacre guests said.  “With marijuana legal these days, it’s hard to know what might be in that pasta salad Mable’s so famous for.”  We all laughed.  But… he might have a point.

We have attended (and hosted) a fair number of potluck meals over the last few decades and we’ve never been too concerned about the offerings.  But, we have noticed a recent trend toward labeling the ingredients.  It’s not unusual to see a recipe card attached to an inviting looking dish or even a slip of paper that says “gluten free” or “peanut butter frosting” in deference to people’s allergies and food restrictions.

All-time Best Selling Cookbook

So… what is the protocol, pot-wise?  Is it an unwritten rule these days that the Alice B. Toklas brownies be specifically labeled?  Or are we entering a phase where all our offerings should list the ingredients?  Probably not a bad idea.

As for the term potluck, who would have thought that its connotation could change so completely?  But, actually, the ‘traditional’ meaning we have come to understand – “a gathering where each guest contributes a dish of food, often homemade, to be shared” – is not the original meaning, anyway.

According to etymologists, the word pot-luck appears in the 16th century work of English writer Thomas Nashe and was used to mean “food provided for an unexpected or uninvited guest – the luck of the pot.” The sense “communal meal, where guests bring their own food,” originated in the 1930s during the Depression and was influenced by the word “potlatch.”  Who knew?   So now will its meaning segue again?

Picnic at the Tokeland Hotel

Which makes me think once more about Tokeland, the town across the bay named for Chief Toke of Chinook and Chehalis lineage.  Wouldn’t you think that someone from there would have been first in line to get a cannabis franchise when the law went into effect?  I mean… really!  Someone was missing the best (and easiest) marketing ploy ever.  And imagine what that would have done for potlucks in Tokeland.  The mind boggles.

See you at the schoolhouse Thursday!

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Oysterville Schoolhouse 2008

The current series of Schoolhouse Lectures here in Oysterville are drawing record numbers of folks from the greater community – close to standing room only, in fact.  Who’d a thunk it? Three years ago, when Diane Buttrell had the idea of holding a series of “old fashioned Town Meetings and Lectures” at the Historic Oysterville Schoolhouse, she asked me to do a little write-up for the paper.  I wasn’t quite sure what her concept was and, after asking for clarification, I still felt foggy about it.

“They aren’t really ‘Town Meetings’ in the traditional sense,” she told me.  “And they won’t be strictly lectures.  More like eye-opening get-togethers among friends.”  In retrospect, I’m not sure even Diane realized how those ‘get-togethers’ would gather momentum and become an every-other-Thursday ‘event’ throughout the greater community.  “I’ll see you at the schoolhouse Thursday,” has become a commonplace expression from one end of the Peninsula to the other.

Diane Buttrell

That first series of talks back in the spring of 2014 had a loosely thought-out theme based on Diane’s desire to provide an opportunity for us community members to meet and talk with some of our amazing neighbors.  “Most of us probably aren’t aware of the broad range of experience and expertise we have in our midst!” she said.

The very first speaker was geoscientist/engineer, Dr. Clayton Ralph Nichols, at the time, Chairman of the National Academy of Science Committee on Earth Resources.  “I doubt that many people know that as Al Gore made his initial presentations on climate change, it was ‘our’ Clay Nichols who was asked to talk with him about the complexities of the subject,” Buttrell says.  “That’s something that just doesn’t come up in everyday conversation.”

Jim Sayce Back in the Day c. 1985

And so it went.  Each week for six weeks we saw a new (and often unknown) side of friends and neighbors. Predictably, we wanted more.  Diane has enthusiastically complied by organizing a fall and spring series each year – sometimes with a clear theme, sometimes as general as the current focus on “local lore.”  Thus far, forty-some speakers have shared their expertise and memories with audiences that have grown and grown.  The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is taping each session and, in addition to adding them to their oral history archive, they are making them available on YouTube.  Who knew?

This week Jim Sayce, Executive Director of the Pacific County Economic Development Council, will talk about “Growing Up Local.”  Jim has lived here for all but ten of his 62 years and his memories are mostly through his ears! And to find out what that’s all about – see you at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at ten o’clock Thursday morning!

Mixed Blessings

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

Reader Board, 3/5/2017

The words on the reader board just south of the Shelburne Inn are more-or-less an inside joke – if an outdoors sign can be said to be an inside anything.  For those in the know, however, those words announce to the world that Laurie and David are back at the helm and that our imperfect world is back in balance… more or less.  The subtext is a mixed one – relief, disappointment, anxiety and hope, probably not in equal measures.

For a year or maybe less, the venerable old hotel has been under a lease-to-buy agreement with a management company.  Shelburne owners Laurie and David Campiche have had the Inn on the market for several years and were full of high hopes when the arrangement was negotiated but, as best laid plans often go, it didn’t work out the way they had imagined.  And now they are back to continue their almost fifty years of tender loving stewardship of Washington State’s oldest continuously operated hotel.

The Shelburne Inn

Speaking as a ‘community member,’ I couldn’t be happier.  While I was interested in the management company’s innovative marketing ideas (and was even involved in one of them – a ghost storytelling night on Halloween weekend), I have to say that I missed the comfort of the Shelburne hospitality we were used to.  I missed David’s friendly conversations at pub or dinner table, and I missed the welcoming, personal touches that both he and Laurie provided just as a matter of course.  Somehow, the hotel was beginning to feel like a stranger in our midst.

But, speaking as a long-time ‘friend of the family,’ I’m sorry it didn’t work out.  Everybody deserves to retire eventually – preferably at a time in life when they can still smell the roses.  And maybe those in “the hospitality business” (as they call it, these days) deserve a few relaxing years more than most of us.  After all, they’ve been looking to the needs and comfort of strangers day and night for all these years, to say nothing of keeping the grand old hotel propped up, spiffed up, and operating smoothly.  Time for their own share of R&R!

Shelburne c. 1900

“What are the warts?” Nyel asked me as we read the reader board.  “I haven’t a clue,” I said.  “We’ll have to ask Laurie.”  I can’t really imagine.  I think the Shelburne under Laurie and David’s watch is probably in better shape than it’s ever been since it was built back in 1896.  Builder Charles Beaver must think so, too.  He hasn’t been around for some time now – at least not that we know of.  (You can read about him in “The Man Upstairs at the Shelburne” in my book, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula… but that’s another story.)

Attention? Attention??

Saturday, February 11th, 2017

Despite (and party because of) a hefty wind and periodic drenching rain, there was lots going on in the Oysterville Churchyard yesterday.  Specifically on and around the flagpole.

It was one of those mornings that the wind whistled and rattled around the house.  As I walked into the dining room and glanced out the west windows, I was momentarily flummoxed.  The flags was streaming straight to the north.  Yes, flags was.  One American flag with two streaming parts.  A flag divided.  You would be an idiot not to read symbolism into that occurrence!  I grabbed my camera and took a picture.

Retiring The Flag

Later, Nyel took down the flag.  We retire it (as well as our Washington state flag) every year or so and, obviously, it was overdue for replacement.  The state flag was looking pretty tattered a while back and we took it down but we hoped the stars and stripes would last through the winter.  Who knew that the end to Oysterville’s current Old Glory would be so dramatic?  Being torn asunder horizontally was a first as far as we remember.

Churchyard Workers, Chris and Larry

An hour or so later, Brothers Chris and Larry Freshley drove a truck into the churchyard and began their magic refurbishing of the flagpole area.  Chris, a landscape architect, had designed and planted the churchyard three or more decades ago and, for years, Larry (a retired teacher and one-time tree-farm owner) volunteered to maintain it all.  They grew up in Oysterville.  They had a vested interest in the village.  And it showed.  The grounds with their lovely rhododendron borders were the perfect setting for the Historic Oysterville Church, the centerpiece of the village.

Renewed and Refreshed with Boxwood and Roses

In time, maintenance chores came under the auspices of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation and, gradually, the design focus became blurry, the gravel walkway became weedy, and time took its toll.  That’s often the way of it with volunteer institutions.  Luckily… Chris and Larry to the rescue!  It they had ridden up yesterday on white horses rather than in a white truck, I wouldn’t have been surprised.  It was just that kind of day in Oysterville.

Out of the Loop

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

Given our frequent trips to our local medical facilities in the last year or so, it often seems to me that we are in the thick of things when it comes to health care on the Long Beach Peninsula.  Not a week goes by that we aren’t picking up prescriptions at the Ocean Park Pharmacy, having lab work done at Ocean Beach Hospital or seeing our primary care provider at the Ocean Beach Medical Clinic in Ilwaco.  Even so, I have recently realized that we are out of the loop when it comes to Big Medical News here at the north end.

This aha moment came to me just this week when we received an invitation to “Spring Fling” – a benefit dinner and silent auction being given by the Ocean Beach Hospital Foundation.  The letter which accompanied the very spiffy invitation said, Ocean Beach Hospitals and Medical Clinics is growing and we are holding a Spring Fling to celebrate the new facility that will be home of the Ocean Beach Medical Group – Ocean Park.

Really?  A Clinic in Ocean Park?  “Must be what’s happening next to the Pharmacy,” said Nyel.  Really??  I thought that was just going to be a pharmacy upgrade.  Is it going to be a clinic, too?

I searched for clarification in back issues of the Chinook Observer and in the April 6, 2016 issue found an article that said:

OBH leaders have been quietly talking about building another clinic in Ocean Park in collaboration with Jeff Harrell, co-owner of Peninsula Pharmacies, and the Port of Peninsula.

“That one’s not widely out there yet, as far as our plans. It’s in development,” Cohen said. He explained that an OP clinic would reduce drive-time for many existing patients, and could potentially capture more business from people who are currently leaving the Peninsula to seek medical care.

January [2016] hospital board minutes show that the commissioners discussed possible locations, including sites on Bay Avenue, near Ocean Park Pharmacy and Okie’s Thriftway Market. In February, the officials met with Harrell and a developer. OBH hopes to open the clinic by early 2017…

But… just to confuse me more, one of the signers of that letter from the Ocean Beach Hospital Foundation Board told me that the fundraiser had to do with the medical clinic at Klipsan Beach which now comes under the ‘Ocean Beach Clinics’ umbrella…

So… I still feel confused and out of the loop but, as they say, it’s all good.  More medical facilities at the north end – especially with our local Pharmacies, Hospital, and Clinic involved, whether old news or late-breaking news, is the best news ever.

I remember Pearl Harbor… and so much more!

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
My mom in a P-38 - on a PR Tour, 1944

My mom in a P-38 – on a PR Tour, 1944

The iconic words of my childhood were “Remember Pearl Harbor.”  Not “I love you.”  Not “Be a good girl.”  Not even “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”  Remember Pearl Harbor meant all of those things and a whole lot more besides.  I don’t think there is an equivalent today.  And thank God for that.

I was five-going-on-six on Sunday, December 7, 1941 and we were living in Alameda, California when the Japanese bombed the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor. I don’t remember when or how we heard about it or if I went to school the next day or if my dad went to work.  I do remember listening to President Roosevelt’s ‘day of infamy speech’ and feeling a little bit scared – mostly because my dad paced the floor.  A lot.

"Liquid Stockings"

“Liquid Stockings”

Later I remember that we couldn’t go to the beach which was just a few blocks away.  It was blocked with big rolls of barbed wire and there were soldiers on guard.  We stood in line with our ration books to get bread and sugar and meat and lots of other things and I had to wear brown oxfords because they would last longer.  Two pairs of shoes a year for kids.  My mom went to work as a pipe fitter’s helper at General Engineering Shipyards and in 1944 she was voted Queen of the Shipyards and got to go as a Goodwill Emissary to Lockheed in Los Angeles.

I remember that my play room was converted to a bedroom that we rented out to one of the ‘girls’ who worked with my mother at the shipyard.  Our sunroom was rented out to another girl.  And all the windows had blackout curtains that we had to pull down at night so our lights wouldn’t show the enemy where we were.

Victory Jobs Poster

Victory Jobs Poster

Our renters were nice to me.  They made me necklaces out of colored macaroni and they let me watch while they painted each other’s legs with fake stocking seams.  There weren’t any silk stockings anymore.  And there weren’t any tires for cars, either.  Most people walked or took the bus.  We had a Victory Garden and I took my quarter to school every Monday to put it toward my War Bond.

My friends and I collected the tinfoil from discarded cigarette packs and gum wrappers and rolled it into big balls that we turned in for ‘the war effort.’  We painted ‘Kilroy Was Here’ on the fence by the empty lot across the street and we sang “Over there, Over there, Send the word, Send the word, Over there…” at the top of our lungs.  And we worried about our Japanese friends from San Francisco who were ‘relocated’ to Tule Lake.

I’ll never forget.  I’ll always remember Pearl Harbor.  And all that came afterwards.

It’ll Be Simply The Maggiest!

Monday, December 5th, 2016
Adelaide's at the Taylor Hotel by Jean Stamper

Adelaide’s at the Taylor Hotel by Jean Stamper

If you’ve never been to a Book Talk by Maggie Stuckey, GO!  Your first opportunity is this Thursday, December 8th, from 3:00 to 5:00 at Adelaide’s in Ocean Park.  And if you have been to one of Maggie’s Book Talks in the past, this one is guaranteed to be the Maggiest one yet!

Here is her plan:
1] I’ll be talking a bit about writing and publishing, using three of my books as examples of how writers move from the acorn of an idea, to a fully developed manuscript, to a successful published book. This will, of course, mostly appeal to those of you who are writers, or know someone who is, or are just curious about the process.

maggie-stuckeyI have to butt in a bit here and say… NOT!  It will appeal all manner of folks – not just the wannabes and the curious but to readers who just want to know how a writer thinks.  It’s the same as my curiosity about how an artist or a carpenter thinks.  I don’t want to paint or build but I am very interested in how people do what they do – especially if they are good at it.  And Maggie is very, very good at writing.  And at getting published.

People ask me all the time about the writing process and I’m afraid I’m not very articulate about it.  Unlike Maggie, I have never made my living solely from writing and so, when I get something published I jump up and down and thank the gods for my good luck.  Maggie, on the other hand, knows exactly how to write, how to get what she writes published, and how to work successfully with all the people involved in that process so that they will be eager to hear from her again.  And again!

Next Maggie says:
Soup Night Cover[2] The much larger part is about the Soup Night tradition, in which neighborhood groups all around the country are creating a strong sense of community through the simple act of getting together on a regular basis for a simple soup supper. Some of these groups — and some of the recipe creators — are right here on the Peninsula.  And here’s the best part: You’ll get to sample delicious bread and homemade soup, courtesy of Full Circle Cafe, while I tell stories about the magic of soup.

It promises to be an absolutely full-to-overflowing program, chock full of information, inspiration, and with taste treats besides.  But, again, I have to correct Maggie just a tad…  The very best part of Thursday’s book talk is that you will have the opportunity to buy one or two of Maggie’s books.  I recommend her Soup Night as a Christmas gift for almost anyone (and everyone) on your list.  Besides… isn’t it a rule that if you give someone a recipe book they are obligated to ask you to dinner?  Talk about the gift that keeps on giving!