Posts Tagged ‘Chinook Observer’

Living Vicariously

Thursday, March 9th, 2017

In This Week’s Observer

I’m so glad my friend Ruth Chamberlin is writing a column in the Observer!  And I’m even happier that it is about her amazing family.  I love love LOVE reading whatever Ruth writes and I have an almost visceral reaction (in the best of all possible ways) to learning more about her remarkable life with husband Burt and their eight (count ‘em EIGHT) adopted children – an international, multiracial group of kids, now ‘grown and gone’ (or as ‘gone’ as any of our children ever are.)

I can’t remember when I first met Ruth.  Probably ten years or so ago.  Diane Buttrell introduced us over coffee and blintzes at the Full Circle Café and I was soon reading her book, The Dancing Finn – a book of fiction, Ruth claims, but clearly drawn from her own rich experiences.  A few years later came the sequel, Laughter Left Over. I was already in love with her family if ‘in love’ is the right choice of words to describe your feelings for a remarkable group of young people you have never met.

The Dancing Finn

Summer before last, Ruth and Burt’s eldest child, Jordan, came to Ocean Park to visit.  He brought his young and very pregnant wife, Innocensia, for whom Ruth had a baby shower.  (I idly wondered if anyone had given Ruth a shower when Jordan was expected.  Or, for that matter, for any of the children.)  And, was it last summer, they all came visiting here in Oysterville with baby Errol just on the verge of walking?

Laughter Left Over

Ruth and I still meet for coffee.  We talk about our lives – our difficulties finding time to write, how our families are doing, our struggles with the aches and pains of aging (though Ruth is at least a decade younger… I think.)  But I still don’t feel like I know much about the hows, whys, and wherefores of her young life with eight incredibly diverse youngsters.

Next time we talk, I hope I remember to ask if she’s going to continue writing about their lives in her column.  I hope so.  And I hope her monthly articles are the beginning of another book – this time non-fiction.  It’s not a stranger-than-fiction story but it’s definitely a more wondrous-than-imaginable one!  Thanks, Ruth, for sharing a bit of your enormous, loving heart with all of us.

Jim Crow and the… – Part II

Thursday, April 21st, 2016
20160420_102047

Dick Wallace Examines Artifacts

Yesterday’s 2016 Community Historian class was everything a culminating event should be – lively discussion, more questions than answers, laughter, and even food!   (Make-your-own deli sandwiches, chips, lemonade and cookies!  What could be better?)

The day’s main activity centered on the contents of black storage bags – items in the museum’s collection that await cataloging and/or placement in the permanent storage area.  People worked singly or in pairs examining, analyzing, and using their powers of deduction to identify a variety of items.  Great fun!

But, it was the discussion at the top of the day that I enjoyed the most.  Instead of a “homework discussion” (there had been no assignment) I asked what the group thought about yesterday’s Chinook Observer headline story: “JIM SAULES, NOT JIM CROW –Effort underway to change racist names in Wahkiakum County.”   No one had yet seen the newspaper, although at least one class member had read elsewhere that State Senator Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, recently proposed changing 36 Washington place names that contain racial slurs. (“Oh,” was one remark, “another, urban do-gooding outsider…”).

April 20, 2016

April 20, 2016

Commentary ran the gamut. One woman, brought up in the south, said the present Jim Crow name conjured up the days of her childhood when, as a white child, she wasn’t allowed to ride in the back of the bus “where all the fun was.”  She was definite that the name should be changed.  At the other extreme were several folks who thought we risk losing our history by obliterating names from the past.  “Our attitudes change as our culture changes, but we shouldn’t erase the story of how we got here,” someone said.

Anne LeFors Sets Up a Portable Clothes Dryer

Ann Lefors Sets Up a Portable Clothes Dryer

Mostly, though, the group felt there were many questions that need answering before a final decision is made.  Why was that name given to that particular point of land?  Does it commemorate something that happened there or, perhaps, an individual who lived there?  And why substitute ‘Saules’ for ‘Crow’?  What connection did Jim Saules have with that area of the river?  (He is known to have ‘squatted’ for several years at Cape Disappointment, but association with the areas upriver are a bit vague.)  And, if Jim Saules does not have an historical association with the area, why choose his name as a replacement?  Because he’s black?

There was commentary about the changes to school names and boulevards after the JFK and MLK assassinations  as well as about the recent announcement of replacing Andrew Jackson’s likeness on the twenty-dollar bill. What do we gain by such replacements?  And what do we lose?  Is it true that one of the factors in making the Jim Crow decision is pure economics – that potential tourists are scared away from our area because of the name?

Bottom line:  everyone agreed that more research was needed to find out why Jim Crow Point was so named in the first place.  Even more importantly, whether the name stays the same or is changed, the Community Historians said over and over that “interpretation is the most important ingredient of all.  It’s all about putting the story back in history.  Without the story, why bother?”

Jim Crow and the Community Historians

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

Image_5Wednesday might be hump-day in some places, but here on the Peninsula it’s paper day and, for four months of the year for a lucky few of us, it’s Community Historian Day.  As a long-time retiree, I discount the hump-day part.  In fact, the days go by way too fast to celebrate the passage of time.  But I do love to take a quick, online peek at the Chinook Observer on Wednesday mornings – especially on the days that I can’t get my mail until later in the day.  (For those who don’t know, newspaper delivery on the Peninsula involves the U.S. Post Office.)

Sometimes, the headline news segues right into the Community Historian class.  Today (which is the final 2016 community historian gathering) couldn’t offer a better example.  “JIM SAULES, NOT JIM CROW” says the front page.  And then, “Effort underway to change racist names in Wahkiakum County.”

We’ve talked about Jim Saules in our Community Historian class.  He is a not-so-well known historic figure in Pacific County.  Saules was the black cook aboard the U.S.S. Peacock, one of Commander Charles Wilkes’ U. S. Exploring Expedition vessels. On July 17, 1841, under the command of Lt.  William Hudson, the brig “sailed straight for a shoal west of Cape Disappointment and grounded” according to Lucille McDonald in her book, Coast Country published in 1966.

USS Peacock , Drawing 1813

USS Peacock – 1813 Drawing

Subsequently, the crew were taken to Fort Vancouver to await Wilkes – except for Saules who was next heard of three years later in Oregon City where he became embroiled with an Indian named Cockstock.  Saules was found guilty, popular opinion mounted against him, and Indian agent (and later founder of Pacific City) Elijah White, advised him to leave the Willamette Valley.  Saules headed for Astoria where he found employment as a cook and later moved back across the river to the area where the Peacock had stranded.

McDonald’s spin on “Saule”[sic] paints him as a brigand, a squatter, and in general, a shady character.  The Observer, on the other hand, identifies him as “a multi-lingual fiddler, bar-pilot, a ship’s captain and an entrepreneur” and goes on to say:  “He was one of just two people to have been publicly flogged in Astoria, and was probably the catalyst for Oregon’s infamous black-exclusion policy.  But all he got for his trouble were three Columbia River landmarks with miserably racist names; Jim Crow Creek, Jim Crow Hill and Jim Crow Point.”

Whether or not Saules had direct connections to any of those landmarks is up for conjecture.  I am probably in a minority, but I vote for leaving the names the same.  Changing them, at least in my mind, once again white-washes our history.  People need to know that Jim Crow was not an actual person, but came from a popular 19th-century minstrel song that stereotyped African Americans.  ‘Jim Crow’ came to personify the system of government-sanctioned racial oppression and segregation in the United States.  And, for whatever reasons, our forefathers saw fit to commemorate the expression by using it as a place name.

"Jim Crow" - Minstrel Show Tune, 1930

“Jim Crow” – Minstrel Show Tune, 1930

I seriously question whether changing the ‘Jim Crow’ name would be a good thing.  Don’t we need to take ownership of our history, racist attitudes and all?  When I was in school there were no mentions of African-Americans in my history book.  It took the Civil Rights Movement several decades later to begin to raise our consciousness.  I fail to see how eliminating the evidence of our shameful attitudes does anything more than continue the cover-up.

But maybe my thinking is askew.  My friend Andrew Emlen who takes kayaking excursionists on the river says the name ‘Jim Crow Point’ is “an embarrassment.”  I agree.  But if it prompts some righteous discussion with people who don’t know the history, then I think that’s a good thing.  I hope I can talk about it a bit with the Community Historians this morning.  I’d like their take on it.

Afterglow and other Afterthoughts

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

IMG_0864Last night’s Luau for Nick Wilson-Codega was absolutely spectacular. From the decorations – leis draped on every chair, pineapples marching down the rows of tables, paper parrots and flowers and frou-frou – to the food which was plentiful and delicious (they went “whole hog” in every meaning of the expression!) it was fabulous. But best of all was the outpouring of support from the Community. That’s the Greater Community, Community with a Capital C – the people from one end of the Peninsula to the other who wanted to show their concern and their hope for Nick and his future.

IMG_0863Nyel and I estimate that well over the hoped-for 200 people were there. Even though the storm was raging outside, folks were parking a block and more away, arriving to stand in a line that snaked all around the dining area from the serving tables past the lobby and backed up to the door to the ladies’ room. And loud! Oh my! Everyone knew someone and the visiting was nonstop. In the background, scarcely heard, was music by Brian O’Conner and, later, by Fred Carter who smiled and sang, apparently unbothered by the cacophony around them.

It all added to the ambience and the overall good wishes for Nick, the Oysterville “kid” who learned last Spring that he has esophageal cancer, stage four. He’s 28 and now living in Seattle. Last night’s fundraiser was not only a tribute to Nick but a showing of community solidarity for one of our own. Thanks to organizers Ed and Catherine Ketel and Jeff and Karen Harrell, the Lost Roo, Oceanside Animal Clinic and Peninsula Pharmacies – it was phenomenal!

IMG_0878This morning we were still basking in the afterglow when I went online and realized that it was Wednesday and the Observer is out… or is it? The headline in the online addition is: Marijuana Ads Fire Up Controversy and the article begins: Confusion over whether the U.S. Postal Service can mail the Chinook Observer and other newspapers with marijuana advertising will reach the desk of the postmaster general…

From the sublime to the ridiculous, I say. I can’t quite wrap my head around why community advertisements in a community newspaper concerning a community-sanctioned enterprise have to be such a Big Deal. The Really Really Big Deal is this community’s capacity for caring. I do believe that ads for pot are the least of our worries… Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Mr. Postmaster General.

All the news that’s fit…

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
Wednesday's Weekly News!

Wednesday’s Weekly News!

I’ve taken to reading the weekly issue of our local paper online early on Wednesday mornings. Sometimes, depending upon their production schedule, I even catch an article or two on Tuesday evening. Thanks to the magic of cyberspace, I don’t have to wait until I get around to picking up the mail to learn what’s in the news.

It’s one of those “never say never” things – one more ding in my protective armor. You know, the one I wear to help me resist our fast-paced (or is that fast-paste?) march away from hard copies. So far I do not have a Kindle or any other book-reading device. I’ve thrown my lot in with our fabulous Timberland Library system and am sticking with ‘real’ books. So far…

But, I have to say, instant gratification is seductive – especially to an impatient sort like myself. Last night, I wanted to see what my friend Cate had to say in her column. I actually thought it was going to be about my Kuzzin Kris – and Cate hints that such was her plan. But, instead, she wrote a fabulous explanation of the backroom politics that aced our neighbor Tiffany Oakes Turner out of the interim position for Representative from the 19th District.

Edward G. Robinson

Edward G. Robinson as “Little Caesar” 1931

I know our present-day good ol’ boys aren’t smoking cigars behind those closed doors. It’s not like in the movies. But the political wheeling and dealing is still happening and Cate’s “Coast Chronicles” column opens the door just a crack – enough to give us a shuddering look at an entrenched process that should have gone by the boards long ago.

This morning I spent a few minutes perusing the rest of this week’s issue. It’s a good one! I doubt that it covers “all the news that’s fit to print” which, as everyone knows, is the New York Times motto. But our little local weekly sure does a super job of illuminating our corner of the world. I highly recommend it – especially this week!

Rules,Ringtones,Robots: Rong! Rong! Rong!

Saturday, October 10th, 2015
Ben Franklin, "the father of modern American news coverage"

Ben Franklin, “Father of Modern American News Coverage”

I titled my column in this week’s Chinook Observer “Rules and Ring-tones and Robots, Oh My!” which, I thought, reflected its benign and slightly humorous content. I submitted it, as usual, by email, along with a photograph of the quintessential telephone operator, Ernestine, as portrayed long ago by Lily Tomlin. Imagine my surprise when all or part of six paragraphs – 201 words by my count – were not included in its published form!

Let me interject right here that when a newspaper runs an opinion piece – a column, a letter to the editor, almost anything that appears with a byline – the understanding between author and publisher is that changes (including omissions or additions) will not be made. If, because of space limitations or some other contingency, adjustments to the work need to be made, protocol dictates that the author be informed of the problem and be given the opportunity to make necessary alterations him/herself.

William Randolph Hearst, "Father of Yellow Journalism"

William Randolph Hearst, “Father of Yellow Journalism”

In this case, it wasn’t so much that my words were important pearls of wisdom. 201 words out of 1,130 aren’t very many, after all. But eliminating them was enough to change the meaning and thrust of my article. In fact, the headline and next to last paragraph made no sense at all since the sentences within the column that referenced robo-calls and ringtones had completely disappeared.

Matt Winters, Editor/Publisher Chinook Observer

Matt Winters, Editor/Publisher Chinook Observer

I paid a call on Editor Matt Winters the following day and asked, “Why?” His response was, as expected, “Space and time.” He said he needed to shorten the piece and he was up against a deadline. I pointed out that he could easily have made room by cutting out the picture; it wasn’t necessary to the sense of the column, but my words were. And I reminded him that I had turned in my copy 5 days prior to publication and 3 days prior to my deadline. When he fell back on past behavior and said he had never cut my words before, I conceded that he was correct. But I failed to see how that applied to the current situation and didn’t feel much better about it. Nor did I feel very assured when he said it wouldn’t happen again…

We went on to talk about far more significant subjects – like the current controversy raging between sides of the gun control issue. What is a newspaper’s responsibility, anyway? To reflect what the community thinks, even when misinformation is being published? Is there a responsibility toward truth and factual information? Or should a newspaper actually try to shape public opinion? And what about when you are the only show in town – no other viable local publication to present an opposing view?

Heady stuff. I was successfully diverted from my own rather petty complaint. Matt is good that way – it’s hard to stay mad at him. But I still have a little piece of righteous indignation about the liberties taken with my words. They expressed what I think. What came out in the paper should have had someone else’s byline… in my opinion.

Pretty in Pink? Impertinent in Print?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015
W.D. Taylor House, 1969

W.D. Taylor House, 1969

For a week, we’ve been watching the façade of our neighbor Bradley’s house change day-by-day to a subtle pearly pink – not what I would think of as a “traditional” or “historic” color for the exterior of a house in Oysterville. In fact, I’ve been wondering what builder and original owner Will Taylor would think. Will and his wife moved to town and built the house back in 1870. Will was a stagecoach driver and Adelaide was the town midwife.

The house has had many owners since then. In my childhood, Tommy and Irene Nelson lived there and had their oyster cannery out in back. In the 1980s, Rose Espy Glynn, a very distant relative from Pennsylvania, bought the house and more recently Gwen Newton and Nancy Lloyd owned it. I can’t speak for Tommy and Irene but I do know that the more recent owners ‘had work done’ on the house. It’s what you do with structures that are still among us after a hundred years.

The "Shack" Bradley Bought

The “Shack” Bradley Bought

So, when I read Bradley’s Guest Column in today’s Observer, I was a bit surprised to see that he referred to the house as a “shack.” His precise words were “By the time that I overpaid for my historic Oysterville shack in 2009…” Wow! I was ‘sore amazed’ as they say. I have never ever thought of the Taylor House as a “shack.” But, thought I, maybe my thinking is skewed, so I looked up the definition of “shack” in my Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary (the hard cover, five-pound version.)

“Shack (back-formation from English dialect shackly rickety, 1878) 1. HUT. SHANTY 2. a room or similar enclosed structure for a particular person or use (a guard shack).”

Real Estate Poster, 2008

Real Estate Poster, 2008

Neither the first nor second definition applies, as far as I can see. Not to this good-sized structure that has stood for almost 150 years. Nope. Hardly a shack. But, I have no professional credentials and, as he clearly points out in his guest column, Bradley does: “I have a five-year professional degree in landscape architecture from UW College of Architecture and Urban Planning.”

That he also uses the column to snipe at his fellow-Oysterville residents (including me) is not very surprising. He’s been doing that in person since the day he moved in and it might be what he does best, even though his carefully stated credentials and experience are in an altogether different line of endeavor. “Oh, that’s just Bradley being Bradley” is the usual response when he lets fly. But what did really annoy me was his characterization of the readers of my Observer column as “potentially pitchfork and torch-bearing grannies storming the Pacific County Courthouse.” Wow! Where did THAT come from?

W.D. Taylor House, September 16, 2015

W.D. Taylor House, September 16, 2015

In today’s column, he also cites his extensive experience with matters such as our Oysterville Design Review Process. Which brings me back to his choice of exterior paint color. “Exterior repainting, if the coloring is different than what currently exists on the structure,” according to Ordinance 162, Section 20, requires “Administrative Approval” through the Oysterville design review process. It is up to the homeowner to apply for that approval. As of yesterday, Bradley had not done so, as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

Perhaps if Will Taylor and the rest of the pioneers could read Bradley’s flamboyant remarks in today’s paper, they’d understand a bit more about his choice of color for his house. Perhaps the rest of us will, too. Pretty in pink? Or pretty is as pretty does?

Another Uneven Playing Field

Friday, September 4th, 2015
Bays Family Irish Musicians - Coming to Vespers Sunday!

Bays Family Irish Musicians – Sunday!

It used to be, around here anyway, that when you began a conversation, “Did you see that article in the paper….” you needed to specify which paper. Was it the local weekly (and, years ago, which local weekly) or was it a daily paper from Portland or Longview or Seattle. In recent years the possibilities may even include the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

But once you narrowed down the paper you were talking about, the conversation continued in a more-or-less predictable fashion. Now… not so much. Enter the e-editions! Suddenly, it is possible to go online to read the latest edition of many papers and sometimes that is more confusing than illuminating.

Jim Sayce

Jim Sayce

Take this week and the Chinook Observer. For us, the paper arrives in our mailbox first thing Wednesday morning – “first thing” being around nine or nine-thirty when Steve-the-Postmaster gets all the mail distributed. We may or may not pick ours up in a timely manner. Meanwhile, I sometimes check out the local news on the Observer’s e-edition. This week I was looking to see if ‘they’ used my story about Vespers with its accompanying photograph of the Bays Family. And, yes, there it all was!

Imagine my surprise when I got the hard copy of the newspaper and found that, while part (but not all) of my Vespers article was there, the picture was not. And, as I looked further, I found that the news about Tiffany Turner and Jim Sayce throwing their respective hats in the ring for Rep. Dean Takko’s seat (if it comes up) was not in the hard copy either.

Tiffany Oakes Turner

Tiffany Oakes Turner

I double-checked the online version, just to see if I was hallucinating and realized that what I had seen in the early morning hours was an updated version of the newspaper that would soon be in my mailbox. I guess in days gone by there would have been a newsboy on every corner yelling “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!”

I do actually know people who do not have computers. More common, though, are people with computers who do not go online to read their newspapers. Come to think of it, neither do I most of the time. So, here we have yet another example of the uneven playing field in this fast moving, high tech world in which we live. It’s really hard to keep up…  especially considering all the bumps along the way!

Clapping and Cheering for Jim and Tiffany!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015
Jim Sayce Back in the Day c. 1985

Jim Sayce Back in the Day c. 1985

Yesterday’s FaceBook announcement by Jim Sayce that he is “seeking to represent the state of Washington’s 19th legislative district” did not come as a complete surprise to us. In fact, when I had shared with Nyel a little earlier in the day that Senator Brian Hatfield was resigning his position in favor of another (also seen on FB in a Chinook Observer posting), it was Nyel who connected the dots.

“I wonder if that’s what Jim was talking about the other day when he said there were some new possibilities in the wind,” my canny husband remarked. He was referring to a turn in the conversation at lunch last Friday when Jim shared that he was resigning his position with the Washington State Historical Society and we asked him about “next steps.”

Tiffany Oaks Turner with Brother Jared c. late 1980s

Tiffany Oaks Turner with Brother Jared c. late 1980s

And, sure enough, farther along in that Observer posting was the “most likely scenario” speculation that Rep. Dean Takko, D-Longview would move into Hatfield’s position which would create a new vacancy in the House of Representatives. That was followed by the news that both Jim and Tiffany Turner have announced their intentions to run for Takko’s seat.

All I can say is “Woot! Woot!” We know and admire both candidates and have watched each of them grow up here on the Peninsula. Jim is my son’s age; Tiffany, a generation younger. We know their families and can speak to the personal integrity of each of them. And once again I am reminded of the benefits and drawbacks of living in a small community. We wish both candidates well but, of course, will be working seriously for only one.

H. A. Espy ("Papa") at His Desk in the Senate, 1911

H. A. Espy (“Papa”) at His Desk in the Senate, 1911

I can’t help but think of some of the correspondence my grandfather saved back in 1910 when he was running for State Senator representing Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties. There were letters of support as well as letters of apology from friends and acquaintances who had decided to back him… or not.

It occurs to me that it’s great to know the big fish in our little pond. But sometimes that presents a difficulty for all us other fish.

Bad fish! Bad fish!

Saturday, March 28th, 2015

 

Fishing on Sand Island - CPHM Archive

Fishing on Sand Island – CPHM Archive

As if the beleaguered fishermen on the Lower Columbia don’t have enough to worry about, they may now have to pay attention to how many of their quarry are sinners. Yes! Really!

According to Wednesday’s Chinook Observer:…Washington and Oregon’s advisory group, the U.S. v. Oregon Technical Advisory Committee, initially said release morality numbers from the replacement gear (purse and beach seines) were much too high. No conclusions have yet been drawn which could lead to the assumption that our salmon fishing friends still have time to talk to those back-sliding fish!

Derbyville, c. 1950s

Derbyville, c. 1950s

I just love those inadvertent typos! A ‘t’ left out and mortality becomes morality and comic relief hops into the news! These days, we can blame spellcheck for a plethora of such errors. It behooves all of us who use computers to do a careful read-through of our written material before hitting the final button that results in public scrutiny. But… easier said than done.

In the olden days, when newspapers were flourishing, one of the lowliest of jobs in any newsroom was that of the proofreader. I did a bit of proofreading at the Independent Journal in San Rafael during my last two years in high school. Granted, I was only responsible for the galleys being prepared for our high school’s Red and White weekly newspaper, but I took my ‘job’ (unpaid, of course) seriously. It helped that it was a small school (about 750 as I recall), that I was the kind of kid who knew most everyone, and that I was a fairly good speller. Plus, I knew where to look or who to call if I had a question.

By the time I moved to Oysterville in the late 1970s (definitely pre-computers and pre-spellcheck) financial constraints meant that most newspapers no longer had a formally designated proofreader. I remember that elementary school teacher and writer Jan Bono served in that capacity for the Chinook Observer for a time but I am no longer clear about whether it was a paid position or not. I just remember that she burned the midnight oil every Tuesday over in Astoria (where the paper was printed in those days).

Charles Nelson Shows 4-H Kids the Fine Points of Fish Cleaning c. 1950s

Charles Nelson Shows 4-H Kids the Fine Points of Fish Cleaning c. 1950s

My favorite typo from that era had to do with Tom’s 2-for-1 Bookstore in Ocean Park. In preparation for a construction project, Tom had some lumber stored behind his place which was then on Bay Avenue. The paper reported that he had broken his leg when he tripped over a “broad” on his back porch. (I’m pretty sure that was pre-Jan’s proofreading days, although I do think the words would have tickled her fancy as they did mine.)

Most complaints I hear about spellcheck, though, are from folks who claim that it has ruined their own spelling ability. They’ve come to depend upon that automatic process to the extent that they are no longer sure if the ‘i’ comes before the ‘e’ in a particular word or if  ‘peek’ or ‘peak’ or ‘pique’ is the correct choice.

Bottom line: Hooray for the amusement those typos give us. Fish morality is certainly a  worthy subject for fantasy, dontcha think?