Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

Let’s hear it for Grand Marshall Dan!

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018

Dan Driscoll

The Ocean Park Fourth of July Parade is the funkiest, funnest, flakiest parade ever!  Over the years we’ve clapped and cheered for Bubbles-the-Pig, the Pepsi Truck, candidates for county and state offices, various and sundry marching bands, horses, Okies Shopping Cart Drill Team, Senator Sid Snyder, classic cars and, in 1990-something-or-other, my own parents as Grand Marshalls.  This year will be a bit different.

For starters Bubbles has been re-homed off the Peninsula but I don’t think she’s been clamoring to come, anyway. Okay. Understandable. It’s a long walk for short legs.  But the biggest difference this year will be NO “candidates or political party entries.”  That’s right.  None. The Ocean Park Area Chamber of Commerce who sponsors the parade has so declared.  Wow!  A Fourth of July Parade with limitations on politics.  A curious spin on our Independence Day Celebration – a national institution known since its inception as a time for orations and declarations and displays of political aspirations – no matter the party or affiliation.

Ocean Park Parade 2016 – Fred and Bubbles

I’m sure there are reasons for banning political candidates and incumbents – reasons that someone thought were important.  But, most of us have no idea the why or the what or the who of it.  From what I understand, some politico was way out of line at a previous event, or so some thought, and the Ocean Park Chamber, after much quiet deliberation, decided to separate the parade from the political scene, somehow.  If the letter to the editor in last week’s paper is to be believed (and I’m inclined to do so) the decision was made without input from the community at large.  Bad form!

In an interesting twist, however, the Chamber has chosen Dan Driscoll of Oysterville Sea Farms as Grand Marshall.  I couldn’t be more delighted!  I’m sure that there won’t be a local at the parade who doesn’t know of Dan’s continuing troubles with Pacific County officials.  For seven years he has been the focus of unrelenting assault by our County, despite several court cases which have exonerated him from wrong-doing.

Okie’s Ahopping Cart Drill Team

So maybe the Chamber has changed the parameters of the parade away from the political candidates and toward citizens who appear to be at the mercy of our current elected officials.  An interesting twist.  But it would also be informative if the prospective candidates for office were marching in the parade. Since they are not being given that opportunity, I urge readers to go the AAUW Candidates’ Forum at Ilwaco High School on July 10th from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

Or… you could go the Ocean Park Fire Hall at 8:00 a.m. on the morning of July 12th – the regular meeting time of the O.P. Chamber – when they will give candidates an opportunity to speak.   (Wouldn’t it have been easier on everyone to let the candidates march in the parade?)

The Color of Monday

Monday, June 4th, 2018

At Kevin’s Memorial

For all the years I was working, I thought of Monday as a day of new beginnings.  In the school environment where Monday is the first day of the week, it’s the day for getting the new list of spelling words; the day for new projects to begin; the day for looking forward to next steps.  In my teacher-mind, Mondays were always sunshine yellow.

Now… their color varies.  Retirement causes the days to lose their distinctive character.  One day often fades into the next and, for me, Mondays are defined and remembered more by what happened the weekend just preceding.  If it was a quiet weekend, Mondays are often an energetic red.   If Saturday and Sunday were busy with activity, Monday might be a calming blue or peaceful green.

As far as the eye could see.

Today is the Monday after Kevin Soule’s Celebration of Life.  And it’s the Monday after the silent auction at the Shelburne for the Pacific County Immigrant Support organization. On this day, the color is fractured… like reflections in water.  Tear-stained cheeks, arms opened in hugs, smiles of greeting, heads bowed in prayer – bits and pieces of imagery with an overlay of bright colors and soft music and the generosity of giving hearts and hands.  Hundreds and hundreds of reflections.

It’s a day meant for contemplation and regrouping and I can’t quite wrap my mind around its color.   I just know it’s not sunshiny yellow.  Not this Monday.  Not yet.

Tomorrow: Sunday, June 3, 2018

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

The Celebration of Life for fisherman Kevin Soule will be tomorrow at two o’clock at the Chinook School.

The fundraiser for Pacific County Immigrants will be tomorrow at two o’clock at the Shelburne Inn.

Somehow, Nyel and I will go to both.  We will be in Chinook to support Kevin’s family and friends.  Later, we will be in Seaview to support our Hispanic friends.

Poster from website:

It’s one of those times in our close-knit community when I wish I could clone myself.  There just aren’t enough hours or days or lifetimes to be all the places we need to be or to do all the things we want to do.  Too many condolences to offer.  Too many benefits to attend.  Too many tears to shed and hugs to distribute.

As always, we want to do it all.  It’s what living here is all about.  I hope to see you ‘there.’

Going Along for the Ride

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

“Our Crap Could Be Your Crap”

It’s Garage Sale Weekend here at the beach. A tradition of long-standing.  “The Longest Garage Sale in the World” offers “four days of bargain-hunting fun. Garage sales dot Peninsula streets from Ilwaco to Oysterville…” according to the Long Beach Visitor’s Bureau.

Truth to tell, we are a divided household on the matter of garage sales. Nyel loves them, especially visiting them, but has been known to “join the fun” and host them now and then, too.  I would rather read a good book or even walk across hot coals. Spending time looking at other people’s discards, whether in garage sales, “estate sales,” junk stores, consignment stores or thrift stores is my idea of a total time-waster.

Deja Vu, Bubbles!

But this weekend I was outnumbered three to one.  Our house guests and Nyel wanted to just “take a quick look.”  Maybe even a “drive by.”  So, being the gracious (ahem!) hostess that I am, I went along for the ride.

Another Enticing Sign

“We find it helps to have a quest,” said Cousin Ruth.  And we did.  A fish poacher so that we could cook the one remaining trout that Phil had given us – the one too big for our largest cast iron skillet.  We didn’t find it, but Nyel managed to spend an entire dollar on a book. (Say what??  A book?  In a house containing several — three? — thousand books… why?) American Carriages, Sleighs, Sulkies, and Carts is now looking for space in the reference section of our library.

Yard art or items that could conceivably be used as such were what caught Ruth and Cindy’s eye.  Two whimsical metal frogs and I don’t know what else rode around in our trunk as we looked for additional companion pieces.  We ended our excursion at the Oysterville Schoolhouse where Nyel spend a dollar for a two-gallon container of kerosene.  “Well, we have all those kerosene lanterns…” was his explanation.  Which, I pointed out, all contain an adequate supply of kerosene for the next twenty winter power outages…

But, of course, logic doesn’t enter into the Quest Syndrome.  It’s a matter of finding a bargain.  Or of traveling down memory lane – “we have/had one just like that!” – or just enjoying chatting with hopeful sellers and other bargain hunters.

Light Fixture at Leadbetter Farms

Not my dish of tea, I’m afraid.  Plus, we didn’t find a poacher and ended up wrapping that trout in foil and baking it, instead.  I did enjoy going along for the ride, though.  It was a beautiful day, the mood ‘out there’ was friendly and, as always, we saw parts of the Peninsula we didn’t know existed!  But, I couldn’t help wondering how Greg Tillotson managed to furnish his faux lighthouse up near Hines Marsh with all the interesting kitsch that he presumably has found at the World’s Longest Garage Sale.”  A good eye and deep pockets, maybe.

A Change in Plans

Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Jason Huntley, Oysterville Cemetery 2010

Memorial Day Weekend has been a biggee in Oysterville for forty years – ever since the Oysterville Restoration Foundation was formed back in the ’70s.  Then, as now, this was a second home for many residents and it was rare that everyone was ‘in town’ at the same time.  The ORF membership decided they would have their annual meeting on this weekend – a traditional time for families to gather to spiff up the cemetery and pay homage to the ancestors.  It was the best time for maximum participation.

Since then, the Oysterville Water Works has been formed and they, too, have their annual meeting at this time.  Saturday is the day – the designated meeting day for Oystervillians.  For many of us, it’s meetings in the morning and decorating the graves in the afternoon.  And, on Memorial Day, itself, there is a ceremony at the cemetery conducted by the Long Beach branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Bayside Singers, 2010

For a good number of years, the VFW tribute was attended only by a few stalwarts.  I have to admit that I wasn’t usually among them.  It wasn’t until Diane Buttrell got the town ‘organized’ with our own ceremony in conjunction with the VFW, that the graveside numbers swelled.  Diane is a great organizer.  She managed to put together a program that involved Dobby Wiegardt reading “The Gettysburg Address,” Nyel reading “In Flanders Fields,” and members of the community saying something about their loved ones who had died in service to our country.  It was a moving tribute and the number of participants and onlookers grew each year.

That first year, 2010, Diane and Hal served breakfast to everyone at their place next to the Andrews Garage here in town.  A group of women – the beginnings of the Bayside Singers – gathered ’round Diane’s baby grand piano and sang a few patriotic songs. Property owner Bradley had some of his classic cars on display and a huge American flag draped across the Garage.  It was a fine celebration.

Cannon Salute 2011

In the years that followed, participation at the cemetery increased and was followed by a Bayside Singers Concert at the Oysterville Church, then a cannon salute at our house and, finally, Diane and Hal’s breakfast at the Schoolhouse – everyone invited!  It has become a grand tradition. But this year… plans have changed.  Diane has opted out.  The ‘usual’ invitations were not posted around town.  According to the Observer, the VFW ceremony at the cemetery and the Bayside Singers’ concert at the church are scheduled for the same time.  There will be no cannon salute or breakfast.

As they say, change is inevitable.  That doesn’t make it easier.

Our Community Mourns

Monday, May 21st, 2018

Kevin Soule: father, husband, son, friend.  In a small community we build relationships effortlessly.  Kevin was my student at Ocean Park School more than thirty years ago.  Tall for his age as a third grader.  Quiet.  Curious.  The kid every teacher wants a classroom full of.

I don’t think any of us who knew Kevin in those years was surprised that he grew up to be a fisherman, an oysterman, a man whose interests and livelihood centered on the bay.  There have been Soules living around our bay for generations.  Boats and saltwater were part of his DNA.

From our house in Oysterville, we all too often hear the search and rescue helicopters at work over the bay.  Just ten days ago Doug Knutzen left our House Concert and flew out to rescue a man whose canoe had capsized.  But we were unaware of the search for Kevin on Saturday.  Ironically, we were sitting in the midst of many of his colleagues at the Science Conference in Long Beach, listening to the problems and proposed solutions involving our bay, our ocean, our river.  We didn’t know that on that very day, the search began for Kevin and his boat, the Kelli J.

It stands to reason, in a small community like ours – all but surrounded by water – that our young people will gravitate to jobs that take them out on the water.  An it probably stands to reason that some won’t come home from their day’s (or night’s) work.  Fishing is hazardous.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Fishers and related fishing workers deal with a set of working conditions unique among all other occupations. This occupation is characterized by strenuous work, long hours, seasonal employment, and some of the most hazardous conditions in the workforce.

And though there is a tacit understanding of those facts here in our community, it does not make it easier.  Since I moved here in 1978, I’ve known six young fishermen who have died at sea.  One was the father of two girls who were my students.  Three others were brothers of my students. Another, the son of friends. And now, Kevin.  Once again, I have no words.

I woke up thinking of Mary Garvey’s song after the Lady Cecilia went down. It began:

I wished I lived in Phoenix or some hot and dusty town
Where the ocean did not roar at night and no one had to drown
Where fish were raised in fish tanks as fish were meant to be
And no one had to risk their lives by going out to sea

In my heart there is a song for Kevin.  And for Bonnie and Ernie and Heather and his daughters.  It’s the same song we all have when tragedy strikes our community.  I hope Mary can write it for us.

You can always use a …

Monday, May 7th, 2018

Horse Trough

Just when I thought we were making progress on cleaning out the garage and back forty, Nyel went funny on me.  Anyone who has a husband who can’t resist a whatever-it-is in a junk store or at a garage sale or from a friend who is downsizing knows exactly what I mean.  This time it’s a horse trough!

“Really?  A horse trough?” I asked.  “Why?”

“You can always use a horse trough,” came the not unexpected reply.

I consoled myself that we were doing our part to help friends move from a house into an RV.  It’s difficult to justify hauling a horse trough around the countryside when space is so limited.  Especially since they have no horse.  Maybe more especially since they are already traveling with four dogs and three cats and the paraphernalia that goes with that menagerie.

Bitty Redell, Rodeo Queen, with Amber, 1947 — Ann Anderson Collection

But I am not hoodwinked one bit by all those “helping out our friends” nonsense.  We don’t have a horse, either.  And I very much hope this isn’t the excuse to get one!  It’s one thing to have a gigantic-galvanized-tub-that-neither-of-us-can-budge right in the way of everything.  Having a horse would be a whole other kettle of road apples.

Actually, we would have room for a horse.  In good weather.  And if we built a fence around the meadow.  And got all the neighbors and the county and god to agree.  I don’t think we are zoned for horses here in Oysterville anymore.  But it doesn’t seem that long ago that everyone in town had a horse.  In my mother’s childhood, every household had several horses and, here in Oysterville, several boats.  How else could you get anywhere?

Camp Willapa Horses 1940s

By the time of my childhood, adults had a car (and maybe a boat or even a fleet) and the horses belonged to the kids.  Almost every family had at least one horse and the kids of the other ‘deprived’ families had serious horse envy. Until I was ten or so, my grandfather still had Countess – the last of his work horses.  She was too old to enjoy being ridden but, somehow, taking her apples and sugar cubes satisfied my horse itch.  And besides, I spent a lot of each summer at Dorothy Elliot’s Camp Willapa down the road where there were plenty of horses to choose from.

I can’t imagine why, with all the various and sundry left-overs from my grandfather’s cattle ranch days, we didn’t already have a horse trough.  And now… we do.  All trough and no horse, as they say.

Not Quite Déjà Vu

Sunday, April 29th, 2018

Seeger Finale Stage Right

Last night’s “Pete Seeger 99th Birthday Tribute and Sing-along” was everything I thought it would be.  Almost.

The stage at Astoria’s Performing Arts Center was packed with musicians and singers, many of whom we count among our friends.  The music was beyond wonderful and almost every one of the twenty-six numbers, a sing-along.  The accompanying narration – the story of Seeger’s life – was perfect and the transitions between numbers went perfectly.  The audience was packed.

The songs carried us back to the days when unions were on the rise (which most of us don’t remember clearly), up through the Korean and Viet Nam Wars (which most of us do) and on through the Civil Rights Movement (which has never left us.)  There were light-hearted moments – “Where’s My Pajamas.” And lots of patriotism – “This Land is Your Land.” And romance – “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine.”  And spiritualism – “The Water is Wide.”  And of course, activism – “Hammer Song” and “Where Have All the Flowers Gone.”

Every single song was right on target for today – the old ‘timeless’ cliché came to mind.  But, it wasn’t quite déjà vu.  Even when Margaret Frimoth added a brilliant here-and-now verse to “Rainbow Race,” the mood wasn’t quite what it was back in the day.  Somehow, things are darker now.  And less focused.  It’s not just the war.  Or the hate.  Or the struggle with our divisiveness.  There’s another layer.

Seeger Finale Stage Left

I don’t like to think it’s hopelessness, but that did cross my mind last night.  There I sat in an auditorium filled with modern-day activists and people with all the right sensibilities and yet… there was that twinge of ‘been here done this and where did it get us’ underlying it all.

I came away feeling more sad than uplifted.  I still agree with Pete Seeger’s belief that if we sing together, we will be better off.  But… I’m a little bit discouraged about the ‘making a difference’ part of things.  Still… it was a grand evening.  I came away feeling that yes, we have to keep on keeping on.  But the “someday” part of “We Shall Overcome” seems farther away than ever.

I could smell the cotton candy!

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Pinball Fun!

The clapping wasn’t over before the balls started rolling the lights began flashing!  It was that never-to-be-forgotten sound – pinball machines in use!  As soon as Tucker had completed his “pinball talk” at the Heritage Museum’s annual meeting yesterday, the crowd dispersed toward the machines – 25 or 30 of them, but who was counting?

Everyone I talked to seemed to have a story that began, “When I was a kid…” and ended “…just like this one!”  Talk about nostalgia!  The room absolutely vibrated with old memories – even if pinball hadn’t really been a part of their lives.  Or maybe I was the only one.  I don’t believe I’ve ever played a pinball machine… so why was it such an amazingly visceral déjà vu?

Pinball Conversation?

Nyel and I spent a long time talking about that afterwards.  BT (Before Tucker) I had truly associated pinball with poolhalls and taverns and, since I’ve never been in either that I can remember… no pinball experiences for me.  My clearest memory of pinball machines is of walking (quickly) by the pool hall on Fourth Street in San Rafael on my way to and from high school.  I tried not to look inside…  but the cigarette and beer fumes drifted out the door and I could hear those pinball machines as clear as clear.

And then Nyel asked, “But didn’t you ever go to an arcade?”  Bingo!  Yes, indeed I did.  The summer I was six or seven I spent two weeks with friends at Russian River.  By day we went to the beach or went for explores in the woods and every night after dinner (or so I remember) we went down to the arcade.  I played Skee-Ball – not exactly a pinball machine but they were all around me as I spent nickel after nickel trying to rack up my score.

Time Traveler?

I think I was sort of addicted!  I was bound and determined to win a creamer and sugar set to take home to my mother – and I finally did.  I can still remember my disappointment that neither she nor my dad seemed at all impressed at my accomplishment.  Nor did mom ever use the treasures I had worked so hard to get.  In the cupboard they went, never to be seen again.

I think that was the end of my interest in ‘gambling.’  Saved from a lifetime of debauchery at seven years old!  Wow!  I’m not sure if it’s that Russian River arcade at Guerneville that I associate with pinball or not, but how else to account for the smell of cotton candy that was so clear to me yesterday?

Thanks for the memories, Tucker!  Hurry up and set up your pinball museum right here in Oysterville!  I have a lot of lost time to make up for – a mis-spent youth for sure!  Who knew?

Living Lucky in Cranberry Country!

Saturday, March 3rd, 2018

Inside The Furford Cranberry Museum

A week ago, if you’d have asked me what I knew about the Furford Cranberry Museum in Grayland I’d have thought one of us had slipped a cog.  But, as of yesterday – been there, loved it, will probably return!  I was there on a fact-finding and photo-taking mission with some of the movers and shakers of the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation (Long Beach Branch).  While we were there, I met a whole host of fabulously interesting people – among them a woman name Connie Allen!

She slipped up to the makeshift desk area where I was setting up my computer and scanner and seamlessly began to save my bacon (or probably cranberries in this case) with regard to all the techie things that worked differently from usual.  (How does electronic equipment ‘know’ when you are totally out of your element, anyway?)  “I have exactly the same scanner at home,” she smiled, and we were off and running.  She stuck by me for the next few hours, standing and scanning in the coldest corner of the old building.  I felt inordinately lucky!

Nyel as Captain Robert Gray, 1989

Betwixt and between, I learned that she is a Captain of tall ships, that she and her husband work on the Lady Washington, and that she has videos of the 1989 re-enactment in which Nyel played Captain Robert Gray as he guided the ship into the Columbia back in 1792.  Really?  A video?  Another of those small world things for sure!

At lunch (there were 11 of us) I lucked out and was seated right across from Captain Connie.  We talked of all manner of things, including the repairs in progress that we had noticed that morning as we drove from Raymond to Grayland along the watery edge of Highway 105.  Come to find out, Connie is deep into fundraising to help rebuild the barrier dune in the area we all know as Washaway Beach.  She handed me a spiffy, fold-out card with the logo “Wash Away No More” and suggested three ways that anyone can donate to assist with this monumental effort:

  • Illustration: Washaway Beach Project

    North Willapa Grange
    P.O. Box 137
    Tokeland, WA 98590

  • com/us/fundraiser/charity/2561564
  • gofundme/washawaynomore

“Your contribution of $5.80 provides one cubic yard of rock” said the card.  I think she said (but I might have misunderstood!) that they have raised $20,000 so far – undoubtedly a drop in the proverbial bucket – but her positive attitude and involvement with every agency and charitable donation outfit you can imagine was way more than inspiring!

After all the years of reading about Washaway Beach and feeling heartsick for the people who are watching their property and homes being relentlessly threatened and then taken by the sea, I was suitably impressed by Connie’s quiet confidence.  She is on a path forward – one cubic yard at a time!

WashAway No More