Archive for the ‘Community Spirit’ Category

Back in the Swing!

Sunday, February 24th, 2019

By Vicki Carter

As I looked around the room to see where Nyel had gotten to, I was overtaken by such a joyous and familiar feeling!  We were at the Art Opening at the Picture Attic surrounded by familiar faces, Fred Carter’s music, walls of bright, inviting paintings and… around the corner a huge table laden with finger foods of every description.  And there was Nyel – on his own two feet, looking over the food possibilities with great interest.

This was our first actual “outing” since Nyel broke his leg on October 3rd.  During the first three months, while he was wheelchair-bound, our only forays beyond the house were the obligatory doctor visits.  More recently, he’s been transitioning to leg-brace and cane, but still in the house.  Last night, though… wow!  Everyone at the Picture Attic was there for the Art Show, but in my mind, it was Nyel’s coming out (in the old-fashioned ‘into society’ sense) party!

(And, speaking of ‘old-fashioned, I just hate it that I feel compelled to explain what I mean these days when I use perfectly good expressions like “coming out.”  So many words and phrases seem to have been co-opted by younger generations and now have taken on new and, sometimes, nefarious meanings.  But I digress.)

Jean Nitzel

I felt that things were absolutely back to normal!  Me, hugging and schmoozing and enjoying the people.  Nyel, gravitating toward a quieter space and the food!  Both of us taking in the art and thinking to ourselves that we’d have to come back to really see what was there.  And both of us gratified in ways that we probably can’t explain that our long-time friend, recently-widowed Jean Nitzel, Picture Attic owner and hostess of the evening’s event, looked to be glowing in the success of the evening!  Another community role model, for sure!

We didn’t stay long but it was a start.  A re-entry into the fun of the Peninsula!  Bring it on!

Just Like “Found Money”

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

“Well, Trump was right about one thing, anyway,” came my friend’s voice when I answered the phone.  “We just received our tax refund and it’s a lot more than we’ve received in any of the last ten years!”

“Good to know,” thought I.  And, I hope we find that to be true, as well.  But that wasn’t the reason for the call.  Not exactly.  “We are thinking that it’s like found money,” she went on, “and we’d like to do something for our Hispanic neighbors who have been so badly affected by the ICE raids.”

“Wow!  What a great idea!” was my response.  And I wondered if we would be as charitable should we be so lucky.  I hope so.

She went on to ask about Ann Reeves and her Pacific County Immigrant Support / ACLU People Power group.  “Do they do good work?” she asked.

“OMG!  I’m so glad you asked!”  And I went on to tell her just a few of things I know about – some first-hand.  “They get money to families in need, they attend court hearings to give support. They participate in vigils and protests.  They train volunteers.  They provide help with needed bond money.  They find housing for families who need it.  They help families stay together.” And on and on!

“Great!” was the response.  “Plus,” she said, “It pleases me to use this particular money to help ameliorate some of the damage that is being done.”

I asked her if I could pass on her idea.  She said, “Yes.”  So here it is!

Another Storytelling Opportunity!

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Nina Macheel

Yesterday’s batch of email brought news from a woman who used to live here and who was gone before we could really call ourselves “friends.”  Nina Macheel!  A woman I much admire – a generation younger than I, talented beyond all measure, intelligent and well-spoken and… a gazillion other things.

Her note brought news of a new venture – with a new friend (and from a new residence in a new-to-her part of the country): she has begun a blog called “Pomegranate, Red.”  On its Welcome page it says the site is a “virtual” gathering place for thoughtful women. (Sorry Guys!)  Truth to tell, they almost lost me right there.  I’m not much into “women things” or “guy things.”  I enjoy all the perspectives and, come to think of it, have assiduously avoided women’s groups since I got out of high school.  (Oh.  Except for the Walking Women of Oysterville a number of years Ago which only served to reinforce my beliefs in a merry mix of genders…)


However, the underlying purpose of the blogsite – storytelling – is absolutely near and dear to my heart.  It’s what I do.  It’s why I, along with Lawrence Lessard, developed “The Shoalwater Storytellers” in 1981 – a performance group with the sole purpose of retelling the stories of our Pacific County olden days.  It’s why I joined forces with Jim Sayce ten years ago to develop a way to continue the story-telling legacy here and why I helped to form our Community Historians.  It’s why I write books about the history of our area and why I encourage others to find their own way to continue the telling.

Also, I was put off by this statement in their initial blog: Yet we have much resistance to story telling [sic] in our culture.  The word itself is loaded with negativity.  (See,red/tell-me-your-tales/) I had to force myself to continue reading and found myself saying right out loud (very loud!)  “NO!  That’s not true.  That has never been my experience.  Not here in Pacific County Washington!”  After all, I’ve been listening to people tell stories about the past and the present, about their experiences and about how things came to be as they are for more than eighty years.  Storytelling is alive and well here! 

Community Historians

So… I urge you to check out this new blogsite and to contribute to it!  I certainly intend to – if for no other reason than to show that “culture” out there that we are way ahead of them – if indeed that statement about “resistance to storytelling” has any truth to it.  I’m actually more inclined to believe that this is a clever ploy on Suzanne’s and Nina’s parts to get us to take the bait – a challenge of sorts!  (And, I wonder what will happen if you men submit a story or two.  I can’t believe, in these enlightened times, that you’d be rejected!  Go for it, I say!)

David Berger’s Razor Clam Project

Friday, January 18th, 2019

David Berger

Day before yesterday, David Berger testified in Olympia on behalf of HB 1061 designating the Pacific razor clam the State clam. Whether you love eating or digging razor clams or simply making money from the tens of thousands of visitors to the beach who do, you might want to consider signing David’s petition.  Also, it would help if you would send it on to everyone you know:

In case you don’t remember my blog of 6/1/18 in which I reviewed his book –, David is the author of Razor Clams, Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest. The book is fabulous and fun and the next best thing to getting out on the beach with your clam shovel or gun and chasing the fast-digging bivalve yourself.

In addition, it lays the foundation for David’s idea to make the razor clam the State Clam of Washington. As he points out:  Washington has a state tree, a state amphibian, a state vegetable, and a state endemic mammal.  It does not have a state clam…  (western hemlock, Pacific chorus frog, Walla Walla sweet onion, and Olympic marmot, respectively, in case you are wondering.)

I’m urging folks to sign the petition for a number of reasons.  For one thing, David is a friend and I think his ideas are sound.  But if that isn’t quite enough to get your support, here is his bio as found on the Humanities Washington website about his project:  David Berger has worked as a visual arts critic for The Seattle Times, executive director of a botanical garden, and as a communication officer for Dunhuang, a World Heritage Site on the Silk Road in China. Berger is also a Metcalf Fellow for Marine and Environmental Reporting. David Berger started razor clamming when he moved to Washington after graduating from college

So… sign the petition!  And, you don’t have to be a Washington State citizen to sign it  — which seems only fair, since that’s not a requirement for digging or eating them either.  So spread the word!  Let’s give our razor clams a little dignity.  It’s about time!  We’ve been walking all over them for years.

Joined at the Hip

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Miki and Me

Last night I went to a meeting at Ocean Park School with my friend Miki.  I felt like I had stepped back in time about 30 years.  Sort of.  Of course, the school has been remodeled since then, the educational staff is for the most part unknown to me, and the community members who attended probably were students, themselves, 30 years ago.

But, aside from those small details, there was a lot of déjà vu to the evening.  Miki and I attended dozens of such meetings back in the early ’90s.  The reasons might have been a little bit different, but they were still billed as a desire by the school district to get community input.  Last night it was “reconfiguration” that was under consideration.  In the early 1990s it was a multi-graded first, second, third grade school that was being considered – also a reconfiguration of sorts.

That time, it began when, on a routine school visitation, School Board President Admiral Jack Williams came into my first-second-third grade classroom (the only one at Ocean Park in those days) and was amazed to find that he couldn’t tell who were the ‘youngers’ and who were the ‘elders’.  He couldn’t distinguish their ages at all – not by size, not by the work they were doing, not by their behavior.  He asked if he could come again.  And again.  Admiral Jack was smitten.

Multigrade Classroom – 1992

“Why can’t all the primary classrooms be like this?” he asked.  We talked.  Then Miki and I talked.  Then we spoke to the superintendent, only to find that Admiral Jack had put in a word or two way ahead of us.  The game was on!  We met with teachers, first, to see if there were enough like-minded folks – teachers who understood that every child learns differently and at his or her own rate of speed and that mixing up ages in the classroom works in all sorts of magical ways.

Meetings and meetings and meetings later, the multi-graded school was created.  It lasted about as long as the turnover to the next superintendent – a stick-up-your-butt traditionalist who wanted every six-year-old “where s/he belonged – in first grade.  Period.”  I (probably viewed as a trouble-maker) was transferred to another school.  Miki, ever the diplomat, stayed on at Ocean Park – and still she is there with a “blended 1-2” class, doing what she believes in as she readies herself for retirement… maybe.

Meeting at Ocean Park School, Jan. 7, 2019

And now… the reconfiguration being considered is more along the lines of the whole district — perhaps K-2 at Long Beach, 3-4 at Ocean Park, 5-7 at Hilltop and 8-12 at the High School.  However, most of the people sitting near us were in favor of keeping ‘neighborhood schools’ much as they are now with K-5 at both Ocean Park and Long Beach.  The sticking point seems to be that they’d be one classroom short at Ocean Park School. And a portable would cost money.  And arranging for one class to be “off-campus” (perhaps at the library) would be a safety concern.  And never mind that the numbers will change with time…

Am I glad I went?  You bet!  It was the best visit Miki and I’d had for years!

Just in Case

Saturday, December 22nd, 2018

Adelaide’s at the Taylor Hotel by Jean Stamper

A note on my calendar for today says, “Adelaide’s 1:00 – 2:30” – a reminder to myself to grab some copies of my latest book and head for Ocean Park this afternoon.  When I was there for a caffè mocha the other day, Proprietor Colleen Kelly mentioned that they were having a little “do” this afternoon and I asked her if she’d like me to stop by to sign books… just in case.

Now, I’m embarrassed to say, I’m not sure what kind of an event she has planned.  I think she said Bette Lu Krause would be there with her tee shirts and maybe there’s going to be live music but I’m not sure what else is going on. My impression is that local vendors who have products at Adelaide’s have been invited to be there to ‘meet and greet’ in honor of the season.  Whatever is happening, I’m taking my signing pen along… just in case.

Colleen Kelly with Hank Doodle

Colleen carries a good many of my books.  She’s all about representing local authors and artisans and, speaking for myself, I find she does a terrific job.  More than once, I’ve been in the shop having a coffee and she or one of her wonderful baristas has come over to me and quietly asked if I’d mind signing a book for someone.  I never get over that little puff of excitement I feel when I am introduced to an unsuspecting customer in really-o, truly-o “meet the author” fashion!  I should probably remember to take my pen with me to Adelaide’s all the time… just in case.

Whatever Colleen has planned for this afternoon, I’m sure it will feel warm and welcoming and all about community.  That’s the way Adelaide’s is.  That’s the way Colleen is.  Between the Full Circle at the Ocean Park approach and Adelaide’s at the Taylor Hotel, I think Colleen has served the community for more than forty years.  She knows everybody, never seems to forget a name, makes sure that folks who ‘need’ to know one another get an introduction, and makes even first-time visitors feel like they belong there.  As I say, I’m not sure what will be happening this afternoon, but you’d better come by… just in case!

Chaos vs. Stability

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

“Remember when we had ten superintendents in eight years?” my friend John asked me the other day.  No, actually, I didn’t.  The RDP (Revolving Door Policy) had developed as an unusual phenomenon when John was teaching here in the Ocean Beach School District (1977 to 1984) but, by now, it is BAU (Business As Usual.)  In fact, I’ve long ago lost count of who and how many have served in that capacity!

In 2005, when I was writing Ocean Park School: The First Seven Decades, I asked my colleague Jan Bono if she’d write a commentary on the District’s superintendents.  She wrote a poem which is one of my all-time favorite accounts of the situation in OBSD’s head office to that time:


(A virtual parade of Superintendents from consolidation through remodeling)
By Jan Bono OBSD Teacher Since 1977

Carl Aase began the transition,
Louis Reis was next in line,
Reis was followed by Thompson,
For awhile things were fine.

John Thompson served for seven years,
In 1980 retired,
Who knew for a quarter century
He’d be the longest hired?

Lew Moorman devoted a pretty good year,
Moved on for better pay,
But after that the “name on the door”
Was changing by the day.

Al Fedje was here for eight short months,
And spent the budget reserve.
Pat Stara made it a year and a half
Before she lost her nerve.

A double levy failure
Sent George Kontos out the door,
Guy Glenn filled in as interim,
His months just over four.

Another interim followed Glenn,
Four months we saw Tom Poe.
July ’87 brought Al number two,
We hoped he would not go.

But scarcely a year went flying by,
And Vandenberg was out.
Dick Grabenhorst agreed to help
When given a short-term shout.

Gil Johnson gave us seven “school years”
Which rivaled Thompson’s feat,
Just four months short of “history”
Vacating the top seat.

The second Dick, the second Johnson,
Was an uncontested choice,
Then his main man, Dennis Bolz
Had a year to sound his voice.

A former teacher, now board chair,
Ray Provo had time to burn,
Then hired a former colleague,
Nancey Olson took her turn.

July ’02 Tom Lockyer came,
We finally passed a bond!
But while yet “under construction,”
Our Lockyer moved along.

We almost had another one,
In June of 2005,
But he changed his mind and faxed regrets
Before he could arrive.

The Superintendents, they come and go,
The only thing changed is the name.
Though Ocean Park School has changed its look,
Her heart remains the same!

I was greatly pleased to read in yesterday’s paper that Amy Huntley – a long-time and Ocean Beach employee with wide experience from classroom teacher to administrative positions – is being considered for the superintendent’s position which is now open yet again!  Stability comes from the inside out it seems to me.  Maybe by hiring from within, OBSD can finally get it right!


“Kevin’s Song” by Mary Garvey

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

A few days ago, songwriter Mary Garvey continued a conversation that we had begun last May when Kevin Soule died out in Willapa Bay:  “I think I have a song for Kevin… The lines about not having time to do much came a while back.  The others just recently.  The final one as I was driving to the bank last week or so…it was like a message…whoosh… I don’t have a tune yet…sort of a shadow of it though.”

“Kevin’s Song”

By Mary Garvey

November storms becalmed in May
With search and rescue on its way
There’s not much left for me to say
Farewell farewell to thee

Not much time to say my prayers
Nor enough to set my flares
The sea has caught me unawares
Farewell farewell to thee

Farewell to my noble wife
My daughters I love more than life
A world of beauty and of strife
Farewell farewell to thee

Farewell to those I left on land
And those at sea who understand
It is not ours to command
Farewell farewell to thee

As I take my final breath
I feared not life I fear not death
I grieve for those I leave bereft
Farewell farewell to thee

Life is like a morning star
It can only shoot so far
We must take things as they are
Farewell farewell to thee

Does Nyel need any help?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2018

A Guy Thing

The phone rang mid-afternoonish.  “I just read your blog.  Does Nyel need any help putting that KneeRover together?” asked Tucker.

“I’m not sure.  Why don’t you come over and find out?” was my response.  I was in my studio, hard at it, and went right back to work.  It was probably an hour before I thought to go see what was happening in the rest of the house and when I did, there they were – Nyel and Tucker and the all-but-assembled skooter.

I watched as Tucker attached the “training wheel” onto the left side of the rear wheel.  “For extra stability,” they told me.  “Do you have a tire pump?” Tucker asked as he checked the other three wheels.  The answer was “No” although I seem to remember that we do.  Somewhere.

No problem.  Tucker went home and got his.  It even has a pressure gauge which I’m pretty sure ours doesn’t.  Soon, each tire registered forty pounds as directed in the instruction manual and Tucker was off to the dining room on a test run.  His report: difficult on the carpet and doesn’t turn on a dime.  Not even a quarter.

Nyel was next.  Tucker and I hovered (no doubt uselessly) as the patient transferred himself from wheelchair to skooter more-or-less effortlessly, it seemed to me.  There was some experimenting with the height of the handlebars and… he was off!  It didn’t look easy and it didn’t look exactly fun.  Not on the carpet, anyway.

The best spin we could put on it was that it will definitely help him strengthen that right leg.  All the better for hopping down the step to the porch, anyway, and eventually off the porch onto the lawn.  That’s where the all-terrain skooter should really shine.  Meanwhile… a new toy in the neighborhood!  I wonder how many Friday Nighters will want to take a turn…

I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

When it comes to trains, timing is everything.  So, when the announcement came this morning from the Astoria Railroad Preservation Association concerning their Open House on Sunday, I immediately went into my scheduling mode. On the face of it, it looks like we’d need to be in two places at once.  Again!  And as far as I know, Scotty has not yet perfected the beaming operation from Oysterville to Astoria and back.

We definitely must be in Oysterville by three to welcome musicians to a long-planned and eagerly-awaited House Concert here.  On the other hand, our friend Mark Clemmens has been working on the restoration of the 1925 Baldwin Engine #21 for almost as long as we’ve known him.  I think he joined the ARPA about the time he and Sandra moved here and he’s been trekking to the Locomotive Restoration Shop in Astoria at least once a week ever since.

When asked, Mark is always happy to answer the usual question, “How’s it going?”  His responses are mostly way too technical for me – engineer talk to the max.  The ARPA’s website at includes a photo journal and annotations back to 2001 for interested railroad buffs and for those (like me) who might be impressed by the sheer persistence and dedication of the folks working on the project.

Having heard bits and pieces of their progress over the years, I have a great desire to go to the Open House.  I’m thinking that if we are totally organized on Sunday, we might be able to leave home early enough to spend an hour or so at the Restoration Shop and get back in plenty of time…  I actually have my great-grandfather’s railroad watch to assist with our timing.  But that’s another story.