Posts Tagged ‘Chinook Observer’

Gather ’round! It’s the visiting season!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Friday Night in November 2019

Last night it was SRO at our usual Friday gathering.  We ran out of chairs so we spilled over from library to living room.  Hal sat on the floor and I meant to see how he’d manage to get up — but I forgot.  I can still do it, but it’s not a pretty picture — not popping up like toast as it was in the days before I got old and creaky,

Sue, Carol, Sandra — All A-Tangle?

The fiber arts ladies (or so I call the knitters and quilters) sat on the couch and played cats cradle.  Not really, but that’s what it looked like.  I think they were helping Sandra with a problem.  It took a while but they got it solved.

Tucker actually brought a hand truck loaded with his show-and-tell for the evening — some of his sign collection which included  few old Oysterville signs, a discarded tsunami sign,  and a yellow stop sign.  Yes, yellow.  Only a few of us remembered them. Ahem!  From The Manual of Traffic Signs on

The first STOP sign appeared in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. There were a variety of colors used for STOP signs until the late 1920s, when the background color was standardized on yellow for maximum day and night visibility. Remember that this was a number of years before the invention of glass-bead retroreflectorization for sign faces, so a red sign looked very dark at night.

Until 1954

By 1954, signmakers were able to use durable fade-resistant red coatings for sign faces, so the background color of the STOP sign was changed to the red color you see today. This change also served to distinguish the regulatory STOP sign from yellow warning signs, and also made the color consistent with that of red traffic signal indications, which for decades had used red to signal “stop”.

So there you have it.  We learn a lot on Friday nights!


Really, Mrs. Crouch? You’re an editor now?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

School Street c 1970

Traditionally, only the roadways leading into Oysterville were called “roads” — Territory Road coming from the south and Oysterville Road coming from the west.  All the rest of the roadways were called “streets.”   And so it is today.

But, usually people don’t really identify the places in the village by what road or street they face — especially in the case of the schoolhouse and the church.  There is only one of each and they are pretty obvious even to a first-time visitor.  Most of us residents don’t know what the actual addresses might be.

Some years ago, the State had occasion to replace the street sign where School Street intersects with State Route 103.  For some reason, they replaced it with a sign that said “School Road.”  The street is only one long block in length and it amused the residents greatly that the sign at the east end then said “School Street” while the one at the west end said “School Road.”  Eventually the state corrected their error and, once again, the signs agree.

Sign Predicament

Not that I gave that much thought when I wrote up an article for the Chinook Observer about the Schoolhouse Lectures that will resume (after a silent spring) tomorrow at the Oysterville School.  Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw the headline and first paragraph of my story online and it gave an address for the school!  And, not only that, the wrong address.  “301 School Road” it said.  To make matters worse, for whatever reason, my byline was over the story making it look for all the world that I felt it necessary to post that erroneous address.

I sent Matt Winters a quick email pointing out the Road/Street discrepancy and asking why my lead paragraph had been changed.  He responded right away:  “I didn’t change anything, but I imagine people will find their way.”  Any angst I was feeling immediately dissolved in laughter — yes, I don’t think anyone will be looking in vain for the schoolhouse!

“Mrs. Crouch’s Typewriter”

But, if Editor Matt didn’t change that paragraph, who did?  Never before to my knowledge has the paper felt the need to clarify the location of an Oysterville building  by adding an address.  And why the wrong address at that?  I can only conclude that Mrs. Crouch is messing around once again.  Perhaps she’s not pleased that just yesterday I decided to write about her once again in the sequel to my Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  I even began drafting the story…

Come to think it, I wonder if she’s done any messing with that first draft on my computer.  If so, she’s getting pretty cheeky, don’t you think?  Stay tuned…

What’s a few years or a few miles anyway?

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Oysterville Store, July 2015

And back to “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town” — the skewed, some-right-some-wrong sort of article in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast.  Paragraphs #11 and #12 are mostly correct. Except for the parts that are totally wrong:

Eight houses, a church, the  cannery and a one-room schoolhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.  And some structures date back to the 19th century.
Though Oysterville might be considered a ghost town, it does have life.  The post office is the oldest continuously operating post office in Washington.  The Oysterville Store sells groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  Oysterville Sea Farms sells harvested seafood.

Oysterville Store c. 1940

Once upon a time, the Oysterville Store did indeed sell groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  But not recently.  As many a tourist or out-of-town visitor can tell you, the little store has not been open for some time — maybe two or three years now.   I understand, though, why Mr. Webb didn’t think to come all the way north to Oysterville to check it out.  Everyone we know is in agreement that it is very much farther for people who live in the southern regions of the Peninsula to drive north “clear to Oysterville” than it is for us Oystervillians to drive south to their neck of the woods.  Go figure.

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2018

Oysterville Sea Farms, July 2018

But, it’s the Oysterville Sea Farms reference to selling “harvested seafood” that really flummoxes me.  I can’t imagine anyone in the greater Peninsula area or even in Pacific County — especially anyone associated with the Chinook Observer — not knowing that Sea Farms owner Dan Driscoll finally won his fight with the county and can now sell all manner of things (including the souvenirs and gift items erroneously credited to the Oysterville Store.)  Even some of my books are sold there!  Especially the ones about Oysterville!  Perhaps they could have been useful in fact-checking the article for Discovery Coast.  Perhaps a radical idea…



I wish I could blame Spellcheck!

Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

In the Jan 2, 2019 Observer

It does not bode well that my very first column of the year in the Observer’s January 2nd edition has a glaring error in it.  What’s more, it’s an error that involves the history of Oysterville and the name of a family I know well.  In fact, some of that family are related, albeit by marriage.  I am distraught but there are no do-overs when it comes to newspapers – only errata announcements and corrections after the fact.  Once it’s out there, it’s a done deal.

If you read the local paper carefully, you may know of what I speak.  I am sorely tempted not to be specific and not to give any more hints.   I wonder if readership of my column would go up and comments on my blog (this one) would increase.  In fact, consider this a test!  I’ll not say more about this particular faux pas – at least not right now.

From the Internet

I do, however, wish to speak about this entire Spellcheck Era in which we find ourselves.  It is one of those blessing-and-curse situations, as I’m sure anyone who uses a computer knows.  It’s right up there with Siri on your car or phone GPS and Alexa on your living room table.  Rely on it with caution and, also, with a fairly good notion of the answer to your question before you even ask.  Otherwise, annoying things happen.

The auto-correct functions on smartphones are the worst. In 2014 there was a great article on Slate, an online magazine, called “Is It Time to Kill Autocorrect?”  It’s one of those tongue-in-cheek but oh-so-true articles and, among other things says:     A quick perusal of Twitter on a few recent weekday afternoons showed that someone tweets “stupid autocorrect” or “fucking autocorrect” approximately once every 65 seconds. And seemingly everyone has a story about bizarre or problematic “corrections”—“arguments” becoming “argue menus,” “hiney” taking the place of “honey,” and so on. The iPhone transforms “Steve Buscemi” into “Steve bus emu,” And autocorrect loves changing sentences to include “ducking.” It’s the ducking worst!

From the Internet

But back to my own transgressions in the Spelling Department.  I really can’t blame Spellcheck because, truth to tell, I don’t always remember to use it, besides which some things don’t show up at all.  And doncha just hate it when you display the error of your ways to the entire cosmos in one swell foop?   Welcome to my world.  And, I’m sorry, Dorothy – you know I know better!

Tooting My Own Horn

Saturday, October 13th, 2018

Just last night, I took a lot of (fairly) good-natured ragging from my own beloved husband for “telling all” in my blogs.  All about him, that is.  The subject came up because it was “Friday Night” at our house and a number of our friends had gathered for our usual “guzz’n’gossip” session, as someone once termed such get-togethers.  Comments about Nyel’s experiences of the last week – broken leg, hospital(s), EMTs, wheelchair, etc. – led him to remark that, because of my blog, he had no secrets.  I agree.  That’s pretty much true.

So, in order to balance things out a bit, today I’ll talk about me.  (Not that I don’t do that quite frequently, anyway.)  This time, though, I am unabashedly tooting my own horn!  The first thing I saw when I woke up my computer this morning was a photograph of a plaque with my name on it and this message from Chinook Observer Editor Matt Winters:

Chinook Observer news, photo and opinion coverage of immigration enforcement on the Long Beach Peninsula today was honored with the top statewide Community Service Award at the publisher association’s annual convention in Yakima. Sydney Steven’s landmark series on the subject led the way. Special thanks is owed to the brave individuals who spoke with us during this months-long effort, often at grave risk to their freedom and ability to remain with their families in this country.

Erin Glenn

Matt also wrote:  Congratulations to Sydney Stevens for this major statewide honor. Though we couldn’t quite pull off a Pulitzer in this hectic news year, winning Washington state’s top press honor is no small thing!

I have to confess I felt a little teary, and that whole cliché thing – my mind flashing back to all my journalism teachers and professors – did, indeed happen.   So corny.  So real.  But, mostly, I thought of my friend Erin Glenn and her gentle insistence that I should “do something” to help and my (equally insistent) reply that all I can “do” is write.  I’m so glad she prevailed and paved the way for me with introductions and translations and insider insights.  Her name should be on that plaque, too!

Hear her story: Nancy Bell Anderson

Wednesday, September 19th, 2018

Nancy Bell Anderson

On the chance that you haven’t had time to read yesterday’s Observer, I am copying the article I wrote about the Oysterville Schoolhouse Lectures.  They start tomorrow, September 20th.  Hope to see you there!

Nancy Bell Anderson, co-founder with her daughter of the Knappton Cove Heritage Center, will begin the Fall 2018 Lecture Series at 10 a.m. on Thursday, September 20 at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  Her topic: “The Columbia River’s Ellis Island.”

Since 1980 when the U.S. Public Health Service Quarantine Station was paced on the National Register of Historic Places, Nancy and a cadre of volunteers have worked tirelessly to preserve and interpret this important Pacific Northwest site.  She will talk about the site from the time it was put up for auction in 1950, its rescue and its role in interpreting the immigration story of the lower Columbia region.

Four additional schoolhouse lectures are scheduled for alternative Thursdays:
October 4, Dr. Susan Raymond, “Hieroglyphs and Graffiti”
October 18, Andrea Patten, “Hear My Poems – My Father’s Code”
November 1, Aaron Webster, “Flint Knapping”
November 15, Dr. Madeline Kalbach, “Birds, Making Their Voices Heard”

Knappton Cove Heritage Center

This marks the tenth season of the Schoolhouse Lectures.  Organized by Diane Buttrell and sponsored by the Oysterville Community Club, the talks are open to the public and are followed by a question and answer period.

Preaching to the Choir

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

Chinook Observer, August 9, 2017

I don’t know what amazes me more – the number of people who are so well informed about local happenings because they “read it in the paper” or the number of people who don’t even subscribe to the Chinook Observer.  It’s not a new realization, but one that has been underscored for me these last few weeks –  ever since the ICE arrests of our Hispanic neighbors have caught the attention of the Big City media.

Now that the Seattle Times and the BBC have picked up the story, people in our own community are saying, “I had no idea.”  Yay!  I couldn’t be more delighted that their attention has been captured.  But it is a little disconcerting that they are just now noticing.  It never occurred to me that my “Stories from the Heart” that ran weekly from July through October would go completely unnoticed by so many of the people I know.  Or that they would be picked up by the mainstream media before some of my own friends had read them!

The BBC Weighs In

It was thanks to my friend Erin with her deep connections to the Mexican community that people opened their homes to me and allowed me to interview them for those stories.  They shared their once-upon-a-time dreams with me – their hopes for a brighter future, their reasons for risking everything to come here to America. They spoke of the impossibilities of going back and of their fears of arrest.  I was overwhelmed by their courage and dignity and that they allowed, actually wanted, me to tell their stories.

I wrote those stories in the hope that they would shine a little light on the very big problem so many of our local families are facing. Because of the increased activity by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) this past year and the apparent ‘targeting’ of the Long Beach Peninsula, family members have been deported to Mexico, children have been taken out of school, employers are hard-pressed to replace workers who have been arrested.

Rosas (Courtesy Gladys Diaz) – From the Seattle Times

Too, it seemed so wrong that our neighbors were living in fear, keeping to the shadows, when I knew that there were so many people right here on the Peninsula who would reach out – if only they knew.  And, they have indeed come forward — to help and support, to offer financial assistance or information about legal help, to provide child-care when the only adult left in the family must work.   So much compassion!  So much practical, no-nonsense community involvement.

So… now the little candle that was lighted in our own Chinook Observer has reached far beyond our Peninsula and Pacific County.  Yay!!  And people right here in our midst are saying, “I had no idea.”  They probably also have no idea what a gem they have in our local weekly, either.  But… I’m undoubtedly preaching to the choir here!

An Emotional Meeting

Thursday, August 31st, 2017


There was frustration, there was anger, there were tears but, understandably, no laughter at last night’s ACLU People Power meeting in Long Beach.  The group gathered to assess the month’s progress with regard to assisting Hispanic neighbors as they struggle with the continuing ICE crackdown in our area.

First was a report about particular families who have been targeted – those whose members have already returned to Mexico – either voluntarily or by deportation –  those who have been bonded back to the community, and those who have been recently arrested.  The two latest arrests were both grandfathers – men who have been here long enough to raise children and whose children now have children.  According to the report, there has been no let-up in the surveillance of the Peninsula by ICE.  The number of those taken to date is 32 – “perhaps more.”  Over half have been arrested since January.

At the Northwest Detention Center – Photo by Stephanie Serrano

Another report dealt with those who had joined in a protest earlier this month at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma.  Again, for the benefit of first-time attendees, the ‘process’ of arrest/detention/deportation was reviewed and it was pointed out that all of those arrested here are taken first to the Portland ICE office, for reasons that are unclear.  The Seattle office has no apparent presence in the process for our neighbors who are under arrest…

That discussion led to the article in yesterday’s Chinook Observer by Amy Nile.  “I’m so embarrassed by it,” said the ACLU volunteer who writes press releases for the group.  “I can’t tell you how many conversations she and I had.  Even so, there was information that was printed in the paper that was wrong.  Don’t they realize that we’re talking about people’s lives here?  I feel so responsible…”

“But at least they are doing some investigative reporting,” said another person.  “It’s just too bad they couldn’t get all the facts right.  Hopefully, they’ll do more and it will get better.”  Especially disturbing to the group was the statement in the article that arrests were being made in South Bend.  As far any South Benders at the meeting knew, there have been NO arrests in North County – a fact which has been noted many times at previous meetings “and even in the Observer’s own ‘Stories from the Heart’ series.  All the ICE arrests have been on the Peninsula. I spoke to the reporter and she did correct the story online but, of course, it’s too late for yesterday’s print version.”

Screen Shot – An Investigative Report by Amy Nile

There were questions, too, about the coverage given to Seattle and the statistics out of that office.  “As far as we know,” said one of the ACLU members, “any statistics concerning our area, would logically come from the Portland office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  That’s where our detainees are first taken for ‘processing’ and for all the initial ‘paperwork.’  They are taken there in handcuffs but leave from there for Tacoma in shackles – wrists, waist, ankles, chains.”

The need for money, for Spanish-speaking attorneys, for assistance with guardianship papers were discussed. There will be another meeting next month, date yet to be decided.  Those interested in attending or who can help in other ways are asked to contact Ann Reeves at

Just Call Me “Queen of the Sidebar!”

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Sidebar in Jailhouse Stories

If I were to be known for a particular journalistic style, I would choose to be called “The Queen of the Sidebar.”  Not the sidecar with a ‘c’; the sidebar with a ‘b’.  The ‘c’ kind is a drink – made with bourbon, I think, and, not being much for alcoholic beverages, I could care less about sidecars.  (And if this WordPress blogging program would allow it, I’d insert a sidebar right here to give my readers the history of and a recipe for a sidecar.)

The sidebar, on the other hand, is 1) a short news story or graphic accompanying and presenting sidelights of a major story, or 2) something incidental to the essay’s central theme.  To someone who writes about history, they are one of the most useful journalistic tools imaginable.  There are invariably related bits of information, not necessarily germane to the main thrust of the story, but interesting and illuminating. nonetheless.

I use sidebars often.  In fact, I’m a bit of a pain in the tush sometimes about them.  I used them liberally in Dear Medora, Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years and, as I remember, their use sometimes posed layout problems for my wonderful editor at Washington State University Press.

Several years later, my History Press editor for Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula flat out told me that they “didn’t do sidebars.”  I argued like that proverbial Dutch Uncle and finally convinced them of the necessity for sidebars in my book.  They may have even changed their policy a bit after our ‘go ’round’ because there were no questions asked when I submitted my sidebar-filled manuscript for Jailhouse Stories from Early Pacific County.

Article and Sidebar in 8/9/17 issue of Chinook Observer

At the present time, I’m finding sidebars to be a marvelous way to illuminate my “Stories from the Heart” series in the Chinook Observer. Through them, I can present some factual information and insights through interviews with knowledgeable community members and experts in particular areas – so far, a neighbor, an employer, a teacher, a priest.

I’ve been surprised, though, that readers who comment to me about the series don’t often realize that the sidebars are also written by me and are an extension of the main stories.  I believe the lightly colored background for each sidebar, as well as its adjacent placement to my bylined story is an effort by the editor to indicate that the sidebar is part of the whole.  But, if you are among those who have been confused, perhaps this explanatory blog will help.

About that hole in my doughnut…

Thursday, August 3rd, 2017

Garage Door

“Why do you always look at the dark side?” he asked me.  Why, indeed?  We were having a discussion.  Actually, an argument.  Over, of all things, the garage door.  After forty-five years of faithful service, it had finally given up.  Off its trolley… Motor dead…  Halfway up…  Halfway down.

It wasn’t that either of us opposed getting a new garage door.  We are agreed that it’s high time.  In fact, we’ve been putting it off for years and the poor, old, tired mechanism apparently decided to make the decision for us.  We lost no time in calling for help but it wouldn’t be forthcoming until Friday at the earliest. The ‘discussion’ centered around what to do in the meantime.  Leave the car out and the garage door stuck in the open position or…

My Dad – Bill Little, 1981

I, of course, skipped directly to the “but that would leave our house vulnerable” scenario.  That was the dark side to which my practical husband was referring.  And… I had to agree with him.  I do always look at the worst-case scenario.  I think it must be some sort of insulation against disaster if and when it comes and, of course, the great relief (usually) when there is a much better outcome than I have imagined.  Plus, I come by I naturally.  My grandmother was a worrier.  So was my dad.

A prime example of my usual attitude is the “Stories from the Heart” series I’m writing for the paper.  I almost dreaded seeing the first one in print.  I had visions of all the bigots and racists coming out of the woodwork in response.  I cannot tell you how gratified I am that the reaction is the exact opposite.  Concern, and requests to help have come pouring in –, by phone and email to me, personally, and on FaceBook in ‘conversations’ between people I don’t even know.  I am so glad!

My purpose in writing the stories has been to shine a bit of light on those in our community who are desperately afraid and are feeling confined to the shadows.  It never occurred to me that readers would respond by sending money or by asking how to help.  For the record, though, there is a group (working title:  People Power Immigrant Advocacy) who are trying to get a GoFundMe account up and running for the families in need here in our community.  In the meantime, contributions for families in need can be sent to “Stories from the Heart,” 12912 N Alley, Long Beach, WA  98631.

As for the garage door – in a mighty burst of energy, Nyel managed to get it down after the car was safely in last night.  I, of course, am already trying to figure out how to keep various commitments at the other end of the Peninsula if the car is now trapped. And maybe I need to go to the bakery for a doughnut hole or two…