Archive for the ‘Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula’ Category

Meds and Makeup? Really, Mrs. Crouch?

Friday, November 17th, 2017

The Get-Away Bag

Now that Nyel seems to be on the Emanuel Hospital Fast Track, I keep a get-away bag handy for myself.  Nyel-the-patient has every need supplied when he is admitted but for me, as the patient’s wife-and-faithful-companion… not so much.  I am eternally grateful that they supply me with a cot and linens and endless cups of decaf-on-demand.  I am happy to bring whatever else is required so that I can stay in Nyel’s room – a blessing of modern-day hospitalizations that I don’t remember back in the day.

Yesterday Nyel was scheduled for a pre-scheduled blood draw at Ocean Beach Hospital and, from the results, Dr. God’s assistant was going to determine what should happen next – return home or another stay at Columbia Memorial or a trek to Portland and admission to Legacy Emanuel.  “Better bring your suitcase,” said Nyel.  He wasn’t feeling at all well.  He had an inkling.  Quickly, I added my make-up and my own meds and away we went.

This morning I discovered that two (thankfully, not all-that-important) items had been left behind – calcium and my eyebrow pencil.  Fortunately, the calcium is a supplement rather than a prescription and can be replaced without having to call our pharmacy at home etc. etc.  The eyebrow pencil is more complicated – it’s the last of a discontinued color (charcoal gray) by Maybelline – not that there is a makeup store nearby, anyway.  Oh well…

Larry Murante who made Mrs. Crouch famous in song!

But a more serious concern is my inability to locate my debit card.  It’s not with me.  Probably it’s at home in a pocket.  I did my due diligence – calBled the bank etc. etc. but, since I can’t just hop home, I’ll have to wait for a while to solve the mystery.  In the meantime, I’m pretty sure that I’m in no way at fault for any of these ‘problems.’  I’d give odds that it’s Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.  It’s been some time since she’s weighed in and it’s just like her to want to reinforce her ancient bones, get decked out up to the eyebrows, and go on a shopping spree!

And, if you have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Crouch, check out this website – she’s definitely a force to reckon with at our house (and beyond, apparently!):

A Ghost Talk and Tell-Tale Signs

Tuesday, August 8th, 2017

It was cold and I was glad that I had worn my winter jacket.  I was glad, too, that my yellow rainhat was in my pocket – the smoky fog was just on the verge of wet enough.  And the wind made me wish that I’d stuffed my blue knit hat – the one Rosemary made me – into my other pocket.

“Why am I doing this again?” I asked myself.  I was on my way to the Benson Beach Amphitheater at Cape D to give a ghost talk.  But, I often feel that way just before a gig, so I sucked it up and looked for one of the park personnel – usually a volunteer who introduces me and offers to get me a chair so I won’t have to stand for an hour.  This year, though, no-one showed up – that is no-one from Parks.

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

The amphitheater, on the other hand, filled to over-flowing.  Adults, kids, dogs, people in wheelchairs.  I wish I had counted.  More than 50 I think.  As we waited for folks to gather, I talked with a three-generational family from Bellingham.  “We camp here every year,” they told me.  When I commented that the Park looked fuller than usual – full to capacity, I thought – they said, “No.  It’s always like this in August.  We have to make our reservations in October if we want a spot.”  I wondered to myself what months I had been there in past years.  Maybe July.  Certainly I had never noticed so many campers before.

Other folks joined our conversation – people from Auburn and from Idaho.  We talked about the smoke – really bad in Bellingham they said.  They were glad to be here.  “The air quality index was 146 the other day,” they said.  “In Beijing (supposed to be the worst in the world), it was in the 80s.  We’re glad we’re here right now!”

The Grandpa from Bellingham left for a few minutes and came back carrying a lovely padded armchair from their campsite for me!  Wow!  Let the talk begin!  (Afterwards, I realized that I hadn’t even used it and apologized profusely.  “No problem!” he laughed.  What a great group!  In fact, the whole crowd was receptive and enthusiastic.  Maybe overly so in the case of a couple of little kids – maybe first or second graders.

Sydney with 2nd Grader, Southgate School, Hayward, CA – 1962

They came right down in front and perched on the green utility box where they proceeded to call out comments and questions as soon as I began to speak.  I stopped and said, “You know, for a while it’s my turn to talk.  You’ll get a chance when I’m finished.”  The little girl dashed back up the stairs to her family but the boy – not related – immediately put his hand up where it mostly stayed for the next hour, even after a reminder that he could ask his questions later. (After 29 years in primary classrooms – I KNEW that kid!)

All-in-all it went well.  Appreciative applause.  Questions about where they could purchase my ghost stories book.  And the Bellingham family lingered to talk.  “You were a teacher, weren’t you?” the mom asked.  “Primary?”  When I conceded that she was correct she said, “I could tell by the way you dealt with those kids!  My mom is probably about your age and she was a teacher too.”  We corroborated the birth years – yep, 1936! – and found that we had both taught in California – I in the Bay Area, she in Fresno.”

I wasn’t surprised about the tell-tale signs.  That teacher voice and teacher look never go away.  Thank goodness!

You just can’t get there from here…

Saturday, April 22nd, 2017

Headed north for the bridge???

Some of the local wags probably still direct tourists to Leadbetter Point when asked about the bridge over to North Cove and Tokeland.  I must say, it is tempting advice to give.  I wish I had a nickel for all the drivers who have stopped me as I walk toward the post office to ask if this is the right road for the bridge.  Often, they have a map in hand and, usually, they argue with you when you tell them there is no bridge.  It’s hard to be polite when you know they are thinking “Dumb Yokel!” and you are thinking… well, never mind what you are thinking.

I can empathize just a tad with those insistent visitors — but in a twenty-first century way – when I get that eternal runaround by email or telephone.  It’s another one of those ‘you can’t get there from here’ deals.  It’s the game I’ve been playing the last few weeks with my publisher whose March 31st royalty check has not yet shown up. (Perhaps I should mention here that said royalty payment will cover four books with this publisher for all sales from July 20th to December 20th of last year.)

Robo Responder

After waiting a suitable time (two weeks) for my payment to show up, I emailed a polite query that got this response:   Due to the high volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis regarding Royalties, please allow 5 business days for a response to your email sent to the Royalties Department.  So, I waited some more.  After eight business days without a peep, I called the phone number that was included in the email.

“Dial one if your inquiry concerns sales; Dial two if your inquiry concerns submissions; dial three if…”  I think my magic number might have been four.  And, guess what!  A robo-voice said to leave my call-back number but “Due to the high volume of inquiries we receive on a daily basis regarding Royalties, please allow 5 business days for a response…”           

Sydney’s Books with Arcadia Publishing/History Press

On Business Day Nine after my first email inquiry I received a snippy email response saying they had notified me on March 31st (no, they hadn’t) and on April 17th my royalty payment (which I think will come to about $272) had been directly deposited to my bank account.  So, yesterday, April 21st, I stopped at the bank and inquired.  “Sorry, Sydney.  Nothing has come in.”

I can’t decide whether to continue looking for the bridge on this road or just to write it off as a bad trip all the way around…

Schmoozing About Reading and Writing

Saturday, January 14th, 2017

Introducing Mrs. Crouch

Yesterday, and again today, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting new people and catching up with old friends – everyone concerned in some way with my all-time favorite things – reading good books, writing good reads, and stimulating conversation!  What better way to while away the hours of this cold, cold spell in January?

Hunkered by the fire in our library or clutching steaming cups of designer coffees at Adelaide’s, I was transported into the world of books and film scripts and Peninsula memories – all from disparate sources and, yet, circling the same topics of interest to each of us.

It began yesterday when seven people from the MLK Book Club of Seattle came to meet me and Mrs. Crouch!  The book club is comprised of six couples who have been meeting every six weeks or so for thirty years!  Many of them are teachers (or retired teachers) and, for their annual Martin Luther King three-day weekend, they come to the Peninsula, rent a house, and discuss their current book choice.  The book they are discussing (perhaps as we speak) is Dickens’ Pickwick Papers, although two of the members confessed to me that they couldn’t get through it.

One of the group (Phil) contacted me several months ago and invited me to come and speak to them about Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  He thought the group would love knowing the Peninsula from a different perspective.  As it turned out, I asked them to the house, took them on a house tour, and then went to Adelaide’s for coffee with them.   We had so much fun talking about common interests, how our respective book clubs were organized, and favorite authors, that I never did tell them about the ghost stories centering on Adelaide’s that have thinking about “More Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.”


his morning I was back at Adelaide’s having coffee with Maggie Stuckey – the most prolific and quintessentially professional writer I know.  Maggie has been published by more big name houses than you can shake a stick at and talking with her about her latest projects is always a pleasure.  I shamelessly pick her brain about all manner of things.  She gives me advice (when I ask) but doesn’t chide me if I fail to follow it.  I count myself lucky to be her friend.

A few hours later, I was here in Oysterville talking with script writer Aaron Rabin and his father, Ron.  Aaron has been here before and we’ve communicated by email, as well.  He has so many irons in the fire, I have trouble keeping up – a movie script based in Pacific County; another that takes place in Grays Harbor County.  Both “dark” and involving multiple murders, based partly on real events.  Which prompted me to show him my Jail House Stories of Early Pacific County. Which he promptly bought.  His dad nudged him to tell me about the Chinese contract he has signed to do a series of one of the important ‘sagas’ of Chinese literature – for the Western market.  Wow!

Aaron and Suria

3That led us to a bit of a discussion about what’s on the horizon for U.S. relations with China, about our wariness concerning our President-Elect and, somehow, to the fact that Ron is a Clinical Psychologist and, totally unrelated to any of the above, that Ron has actually stayed in Oysterville in years past – at Tucker’s house!!  Wouldn’t you know that there would be one of those six (or actually two) degrees of separation among all of us schmoozers!

What a couple of days!  I loved it all!  I am full of inspiration and resolve about my next book.  I really need to lock myself away but… think of all the fun I would miss!  As usual, I want to do it all.

Polishing Up Those Ghost Stories!

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016
Adelaide's at the  Taylor Hotel, by Jean Stamper

Adelaide’s at the Taylor Hotel, by Jean Stamper – GHOST STORIES, OCT 29, 1:00 to 3:00 P.M.

When I was doing the research for Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula, it never occurred to me that those stories would become a focal point for Halloween gatherings here at the beach.  My interest, as always, was to get at the history of the buildings that are said to be haunted and to find out who had lived (and possibly died) in them, eventually giving rise to weird and inexplicable experiences.

In some cases, the stories seemed clear-cut.  The long-ago suicide or, perhaps, the unexplained death of someone closely associated with the structure seemed to lead to a straight-ahead explanation for sightings or “weird happenings.”  In other instances, there were no clear answers and the stories took a speculative turn.

The Shelburne Inn

The Shelburne Inn – GHOST STORIES OCT. 29, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

As ghost stories go, the collection is not very creepy or spine-chilling.  The compelling part, at least for me, was that the experiences happened in familiar places and to people I know.  Some of the stories were even well-known in the area – not necessarily “taken for granted” or necessarily believed, but definitely part of our local lore.  Finding out the stories behind the stories was fascinating and I loved it that History Press felt they were worthy of publication.

At my first book signing event after Ghost Stories was published – in October 2014 at Adelaide’s Books and Coffee – I half-way expected to learn of other story possibilities from audience members.  There weren’t any that time but, as the years have passed, I’ve begun to hear glimmers here and there – enough, in fact, that I’m considering a sequel.

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Penisula

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

On Saturday, October 29th, I will have two additional opportunities to ‘make contact’ – if not with the ghosts, with residents and visitors who have had ghostly experiences here at the beach.  From 1:00 to 3:00 I will again be at Adelaide’s in Ocean Park for a book signing and a talk.  Later, that same day, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., I’ll be sharing stories and signing books in the parlor at the Shelburne Inn.  I hope that there will be a crowd of book-buyers and ghost-story-tellers at both venues!  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more ghostly history for “Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula – Part Two!”  Storytellers, listeners, book buyers — all welcome!

And tonight… ghosts at Cape D!

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016
A Book Full of Shots

A Book Full of Shots

One of my favorite summer memories is of sitting around a campfire at the beach listening to ghost stories as the night grew darker and we all got that shivery feeling that didn’t come just from the ocean breezes.  Tonight, there won’t be a campfire and it won’t be dark and I’ll be the one telling the stories.  Still, I hope that shivery feeling comes over my listeners.

From 7:00 to 8:00 at the Waikiki Beach Amphitheater (follow the signs!) at Cape Disappointment State Park I’ll be talking about some of the ghosts featured in my book Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  And, I’ll also be telling about some ‘new’ ghosts – never mind the oxymoron.  Like those featured in the book, these are also Peninsula ghosts and may become the subjects of a sequel.  Perhaps audience members will weigh in on that idea.

Summer talks at Cape D are open to the public… and no doubt to ghosts, as well.  I’m not at all sure how they are publicized – maybe on Park notice boards – but however it works, I was pleasantly surprised last year (when I did a similar talk) that a number of campers showed up.  And some of my friends, as well!

Oysterville Sign

Oysterville Sign

Another surprise last year was the knock on my door the following day.  A young boy and his mom, with book in hand, were following my suggestion that they take a drive through Oysterville to catch a glimpse of some of the houses mentioned in the stories.  They asked if I would sign their book and, at my invitation, came in for a few moments to see Mrs. Crouch’s domain.  I sincerely wished that Mrs. Crouch would manifest herself for them but she has never been known to perform on demand.

But… you never know.  Tonight’s talk will take place not far from North Head Lighthouse where Mary Pesonen, ghost of the first light keeper’s wife, is said to make herself known now and again.  Maybe she’ll join us at the amphitheater this evening.  We can only hope!

Ghost Stories Some More?

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016
November 2014 at the Oysterville Store - Photo by Tucker

October 2014 at the Oysterville Store – Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Back in October of 2014, when I did an evening book-signing at the Oysterville Store, proprietor Greg ‘set the stage’ with candlelight and his mother’s magnificent sculpture of a raven perched nearby. The thought was that I’d tell some of the circumstances surrounding the tales in Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and then audience members could share stories of their own.

In the back of my mind, of course, was thought that maybe, just maybe, there would be enough new information to provide a sequel. I did, in fact, learn about some interesting ghosts – in particular one called “The Lady of the Bay” who apparently appears now and then to travelers as they drive the road from the Peninsula to Johnson’s Landing. It was intriguing, but a snippet only, and I’ve not been able to find any substantial (or even corroborating) information about this ‘lady.’ I’m still on the lookout.

Signing October 17th at CostCo

Author with Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

My purpose in writing the first ghost story book was to talk about the history of the buildings and/or the areas where people have experienced ghostly doings and, in some cases, to tell something of the early inhabitants who might be associated with those places. I wasn’t sure how “The Lady of the Bay” might fit those parameters, but you never know.

Meanwhile, I’m still listening for ideas. Two come up over and over – the ghost(s) at the Lamplighter restaurant and at the old PACE building in Ilwaco. I’m not sure I have enough about either for meaningful stories. Yet. And, besides, two stories a book do not make.

But the other day I learned that there are accounts of ghosts – apparently four of them! – at the Taylor Hotel in Ocean Park. I am all ears! For one thing, there isn’t a building at the beach with a more colorful history than that one. Nor with more revered builders. Will Taylor was one of the early Loomis stage drivers on the Ilwaco-Oysterville run. His wife, Adelaide, was a mid-wife in Oysterville. Their hotel, built in 1887 in anticipation of the completion of the IR&N, became the hub of Ocean Park for more than half a century. History galore!

So… once again the sequel to Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula becomes a tantalizing possibility. If the spirit moves me, you might say… and if more substantive stories present themselves. Or is it an oxymoron to think ‘substantive’ and ‘ghosts’ in the same breath?

Book-Signing in a Big Box Venue

Sunday, October 18th, 2015
Me at CostCo in Warrenton!

Me at CostCo in Warrenton!

Yesterday I spent two hours (actually more like two and a half) at CostCo signing Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and schmoozing with friends and strangers about far-ranging subjects. But mostly about ghosts. The CostCo staff made me feel right at home and I loved every minute of it!

This was the first book-signing I’ve ever done in a venue that is not primarily books. I’ve had ‘book events’ in bookstores and libraries, and even in museum bookshops – but never in an outlet that is selling everything from exotic cheeses and garden chairs to toilet paper and flat screen televisions. The questions that people asked seemed to separate the regular readers from many of the other folks who stopped by my table.

“Did you write this book? Is it any good?” was a tandem query that I heard more than once. My responses varied between “Yes! Why don’t you buy it and see for yourself?” and just “Yes! I love it.” Mostly they bought the book. I hope they enjoy it.

Mystery Book Clubbers

Mystery Book Clubbers

Of course, the primary subject under discussion was ghosts. I heard about several ‘new’ ghosts in the area that I intend to learn more about. And one lovely woman came all the way from Longview to buy the book and to tell me about a haunted place on the Peninsula where she worked for ten years. I took her card. Maybe there’s a sequel in the making…

I was greatly pleased that one man told me he was buying the book because he was a “history buff.” I don’t know how he knew that the whole point of Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula was to take a different look at the history behind some of the familiar places and structures on the Peninsula. Hooray for discerning buyers, I say!

Peninsula Friends

Peninsula Friends

I saw lots of friends who were rushing through the store on a particular mission and had no idea about my signing. Michelle and Josh Rogers were there with their four-month-old triplets and big sister Addy; Tiffany and Brady Turner and boys stopped to visit for a bit. I even saw Billie Rood, a teacher I worked with at Ocean Park School twenty years ago and who now lives in Poulsbo. I’m not sure why she was at the Warrenton CostCo but it was great to share a hug and hello!

And then there were the wonderful supportive friends from both sides of the river – members of the Mystery Book Club, former Community Historians, and even a member or two from the Grays Harbor College class I taught last Spring. Thank you all! You made it a memorable day, indeed!

Visiting Our Friendly Ghosts

Friday, October 16th, 2015
Lightkeeper's House

The Lightkeeper’s House, Cape Disappointment — Haunted?

The Gray’s Harbor College website says: Grays Harbor College’s EDventures takes a Ghostly Tour to Pacific County—Hosted by the GHC Community Education program, a full day of ghostly sites is planned on the Long Beach Peninsula, including the Oysterville Cemetery, Light Keeper’s residence at Cape Disappointment, Mrs. Crouch’s historic home and lots more… To sign up for this ghostly experience, contact Chelcie Bailey, Community Education specialist now located on the lower level of the Spellman Library, 360.538.4088,

You have to read between the lines (or investigate a bit more thoroughly) to learn it’s happening a week from tomorrow, on Saturday, October 24th and that I will be the friendly ghost tour leader! Part of ‘the package’ includes a copy of my book, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula. And, we’ll be taking our lunch break here at the old Oysterville Parsonage so there’s always the chance that Mrs. Crouch will make herself known.

The Parsonage, circa 1900jpg

The Old Oysterville Parsonage where Mrs. Crouch once lived.

Reverend Josiah and his wife, Sarah, arrived in Oysterville in June 1892. The following July, while accompanying her husband on church call up the Willapa River, Sarah drowned under mysterious circumstances. She is said to haunt the erstwhile parsonage and has been given credit for all manner of unexplained ‘happenings’ over the years. She has yet to make an actual appearance, but, even I (a non-believer in ghosts) have to admit that she ‘makes herself known’ now and then in no uncertain terms!

I’m looking forward to the tour next week. It could be quite the EDventure – you never can tell with ghosts!

…same time on Saturday?

Thursday, October 15th, 2015
Poster at the Ocean Park Library

Poster at the Ocean Park Library

Yesterday we went to our friend Maggie Stuckey’s talk at the Ocean Park Library. She spoke about publishers and editors and about three of her many books, including her latest, Soup Night. As a delicious added bonus (as if one were needed) she served a spicy taco soup from one of the recipes in the book! It all happened about five in the evening, and I suspect that it was dinner, or at least the first course, for many of her rapt listeners.

In case you missed it, she will be there again, but with a different soup, on Saturday from 1:00 to 3:00. But wait! Why am I giving her such shameless advertising when I will be at CostCo at the very same time signing copies of my latest book, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula?? It would be very wrong of me to say graciously, “Oh, by all means go to Maggie’s event; she’s even serving soup!”

Signing October 17th at CostCo

Signing October 17th at CostCo

My fondest desire would be that you come first to CostCo, be at the head of the queue, ask me to “Sign, quick!” and beat feet over to Ocean Park for the last part of Maggie’s talk… and soup. You’ll miss her opening joke, but I’ll bet she’ll repeat it if you ask nicely!

What are the odds, anyway, of two writer friends doing book events on the same day, at the same time, in two different states an hour’s distance from one another? Only here in our little corner of the world, I say! I hope to see you at 1:00 (or at least by 3:00) on Saturday at the Warrenton CostCo!