Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’

Mom would’ve been pleased… I think!

Monday, November 4th, 2019

Dale Espy Little – “Mom” 2010

When my mother advised “moderation in all things,” she was speaking of indulgences, not character traits.  Or so I’ve always thought.  Not too many desserts.  Not too many drinks.  Not too many party clothes — not too many parties, for that matter.

Saturday night, however, 6×6 Art Auctioneer Bruce Peterson put a whole new spin on what mom might have meant.  Just before the bidding began, I had been asked to draw the winning raffle ticket.  As I recall, I performed that task last year as well — without incident.  But this year, when it was time, Bruce introduced the drawing with a bit of an explanation.

He reminded the crowd that, for many years, Kaye Mulvey had been the one to draw the winning ticket.  “Kaye was the most honest person we knew,” explained Bruce.  “And so now that Kaye is no longer with us, we looked for the second most honest person…”

Bruce and Betsy, Nov 2019

“Gadzooks!” I was thinking.  “I really hate to be identified as second best at anything.”  However, before I could finish the thought, Bruce said something like, “But we finally had to settle for someone who is moderately honest… Sydney Stevens!” That got a big laugh, of course, and I’m sure mine was most enthusiastic of all.  It sure put a different spin on my mother’s life-long advice.  I think she’d have been proud!

The Best Theme Yet: “My Home Town”

Saturday, November 2nd, 2019

The Announcement

Tonight is the 6×6 auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Foundation — the big annual fundraiser for the support of their exhibition programs.  A worthy cause but, more than that, a wonderful event starring our local art community.  Nyel and I have again reserved a table for six and are looking forward to an evening “out on the town.”

Appropriately enough, the theme of this year’s 6×6 event is “My Hometown.”  It’s a great theme, as always, and lends itself to every interpretation imaginable. It can be a literal interpretation like Jeanne Nitzel’s “My Hometown, Long Beach, Wa c. 1950s” or fanciful like Richard Schroeder’s “Mouse House” showing a big chunk of cheese inhabited by chunky little mice.  If you (like us) didn’t get to see the submissions during last month’s display at the Heritage Museum, take a look right now at the CPHM website preview:  https://columbiapacificheritagemuseum.org/6×6-art-show-and-auction/

My own preferences seem to gravitate to the historic themes — particularly as related to the bay or ocean.  And, I have to admit that I’m biased in favor of the many artists I know personally.  It’s probably fortunate that our neighbor Tucker Wachsmuth did not do a painting specifically of Oysterville.  My actual hometown done by an artist who is also a neighbor would probably put me over some edge.  And it definitely would threaten the precarious Stevens financial balance.

As it is, Nyel and I have had several serious discussions, full of phrases like:  “…we’re pretty much tapped out this year.” and “…we really don’t have any wall space left.” and “…but it’s all for such a very good cause.”  Your guess is as good as mine on what will happen when we have paddles in hand and Auctioneer Bruce Peterson starts his hypnotic patter!  Whatever the result though, it’s bound to be a great evening of elbow-rubbing with the local glitterati,  delicious refreshments, good company, and lots of laughter and enthusiasm.  (And high hopes that Security Guard Richard Schroeder remains upright and at the top of his form.)

 

 

Joe Johns Some More

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Ocean Park Theatrical Troupe

Adelle and Bob Beechey were good friends of my folks.  They had both grown up on the Peninsula and, since their marriage in 1937, they had lived in Ocean Park.  I spent a lot of time with Adelle in the ’90s and ’00s.  She was a storehouse of information about the history of the Peninsula, especially of Ocean Park.  I loved looking at the keepsakes in her Treasure Trunk – costumes worn by The Ocean Park Theatrical Troupe (the all-male performance group who put on melodramas and other plays in the hall above Trondsen’s Store in Ocean Park),  mementos of the old narrow-gauge railroad, and interesting bits and pieces of “the olden days.”

It was Adelle who shared with me the reason for the name of Joe Johns road.  She remembered that when she was first married, an old Indian named Joe John was the only person who lived along the sandy road north of Nahcotta.  “Of course,” she told me, “it became known as Joe John’s Road.”  I don’t remember that I asked her any particulars about Joe John but the fact that the road was called by his name made perfect sense to me.

I have repeated Adelle’s story over the years – even included it in the 2014 Sou’wester “A Sense of Place.”  But recently I’ve come into possession of new information which throws a big monkey wrench into what Adelle told me.  Research specialist Stacy at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum did a little delving into the matter and found that Joseph Johns is listed in the 1900 census for Nahcotta District #141.  According to the census, he was a White male, born November 1852 in Ohio.  His father was from Germany; his mother from Ohio.  Joseph was a Day Laborer, could read and write, owned his house and was single. The only part of Adelle’s story that jibes with the census data is that Joe John(s) was “old.”

In fact, when Adelle married and moved from Long Beach to Ocean Park, Mr. John(s) would have been 85 – very old, indeed!  I can’t help but wonder if he was still living or if Adelle was repeating what others had told her.  How I wish that she or Dorothy Elliott or Johnny Morehead or any others of that generation were still around to add to the story!  And I can’t help but wonder what new piece of information might be forthcoming to give yet another slant on the name of Joe Johns Road!  I think I’ll give Dorothy Trondsen Williams a call…  And I hope readers will weigh in if they have a pertinent fact or two!

I LOVE Reader’s Theater!

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

Sydney reads from Dear Medora — 2007

I love reading aloud!  I love doing it and I love to listen to other people do it and I love to incorporate it into the teaching/learning opportunities of various aspects of my life.  Today our Community Historians had an opportunity to participate in a Reader’s Theater experience focused on “Washington at War:  The Evergreen State in WWI.”

Our guest speaker was Lorraine McConaghy, a historian who works at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.  She talked to us about the process of creating a reader’s theater piece by utilizing original sources – in this case, excerpts from writings, diaries, speeches and correspondence.  She suggested that we consider developing a reader’s theater experience from our own research projects – perhaps presenting such a piece to local community groups or schools and asking “listeners” to participate in a significant historic event by reading the script aloud.

Early IWW Poster

As an example, she brought along a script she has developed concerning “Washington at War: The Evergreen State in WWI.”  We sat around a large table – fifteen or twenty of us – and read for forty minutes.  We read the words of politicians and labor leaders, of journalists and social activists – diverse opinions about a controversial subject in a nation as polarized 100 years ago as it is today.  It was eye-opening and familiar, both.

Topics covered the period between 1914 and 1919 and included immigration, wartime industrialization, women’s rights, social change, radical labor, epidemic disease, and worldwide turmoil.  We even sang – songs of the period like “Over There” and “Mademoiselle from Armentieres.” (It was no surprise that we all knew the tunes and the words; our gray heads give evidence that we are probably separated from that War only by a generation or two.  We probably learned those songs from our own parents or grandparents.  I couldn’t help wondering what a school group would make of them.)

Shoalwater Storytellers, 2013

Fun!  Fun!  Fun!  But then… I knew that it would be.  I was doing Reader’s Theater back in the early eighties and found it one of the best ways to put the ‘story’ back in hi’story’ for both participants and audiences.  Perhaps you remember the Shoalwater Storytellers (1981-2013-ish)?  A little different take on the form – we had costumes (hats) and props (sticks and barrels) in addition to scripts – but the idea was the same.  To research a topic and use original, contemporary sources to give voice to history.  Three cheers!!  (Did I say I loved it?)

From Ship to Shore to “H.M.S. Pinafore”

Friday, January 25th, 2019

Tucker and Cannon on the Move

Each Wednesday morning, Tucker Wachsmuth takes an artifact from his extensive and eclectic collection to our Community Historian class at the Heritage Museum.  Sometimes what he takes is directly related to the day’s main topic.  Sometimes it’s obliquely related to Pacific County History and serves as a conversation starter.  That was the case last Wednesday when he dragged in a small (but very heavy) cannon.

“This came from the Cavour,” he told us.  “Built in 1881, she was a 1,354-ton square-rigged bark that stranded on the sands two miles south of Cape Disappointment Light on December 8 1093.  She was the first Italian vessel to be wrecked on the Columbia River Bar.”  Tucker went on to tell about its “recent” history, including stories of when it sat in his front yard when he was a boy in the fifties and how he and his brothers used it to shoot a tennis in the schoolyard two and a half blocks away.

Bette Lu Krause

“I’ve been told that it was a Lyle Gun,” he continued.  “But I always thought they were used to shoot lines from shore to ship.”  He turned to class member Bette Lu Krause (former merchant marine and tugboat captain) and asked if there were also Lyle Guns on ships.  “Oh, yes, she assured him, but the ones I’ve used were hand-held and were meant for ship-to-ship use.”

(Note #1:  Tucker first met Bette Lu back in 2017 when she gave one of the Oysterville Schoolhouse Lectures about her career as a mariner. “I ran off to sea at 24 to become a merchant marine,” she had said.  “From 1976 until 1994 I worked on all kinds of ships – freighters, tankers, research vessels, and for several years I was a tugboat captain in Prudhoe Bay.”)

(Note #2:  According to Merriam Webster, a Lyle Gun is a mounted gun that resembles a small brass cannon and is used to fire a projectile attached to a line of rope to an extreme range of about 700 yards in rescue operations at sea.)

H.M.S. Pinafore poster

In the next breath, Bette Lu said, “The Peninsula Players are just beginning rehearsals for H.M.S. Pinafore which will open March 29th and run through April 14th. Is there any chance you’d let us used your cannon as a set piece?”  And the arrangement was made on the spot.  After the class was over, Bette Lu led Tucker and the cannon next door to the Playhouse where stage manager/set designer Andy Tauber was hard at work but paused long enough to give the cannon a warm welcome, indeed!

Community networking at its finest, I say.  Oysterville Lectures and Community Historians and Peninsula Players to say nothing of Gilbert and Sullivan and Wachsmuth and Krause!  Wowie Zowie!  This Peninsula is always alive with possibilities!

First Day, Seventh Year

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Jim Sayce

“After we’re gone, who will be left to tell the stories?” Jim Sayce asked me.  That was probably nine or ten years ago in a past dim enough that I have no memory of what prompted his call to me. Nevertheless, it was an intriguing question and we decided to meet to talk it over.

We asked Cate Gable and then Betsy Millard to join us and for the next several years we met, at first here in Oysterville in my library and, ultimately at Betsy’s where Barbara Minard joined the conversation.  Jim investigated using Master Gardeners as an organizational model.  Bet y advised caution about developing a program that looked like a “class” or a “history course.”   Cate and I urged the development of basic objectives and methods and processes that would give some structure to our model.  Barbara suggested ways the museums collections and archives could be utilized – and ways they could not.

Gradually, we hammered out a tentative “program” that we would call “Community Historians.”  The focus would be Pacific County history in all of its aspects – geographic, cultural, economic.  Not all strands every year, but a continuing and eclectic ‘conversation’ among interested residents.

We would begin in January and meet every Wednesday morning through April. We would invite experts in various fields and disciplines to talk with us; we would plan ‘field trips’ to appropriate sites; we would explore the best methods of researching, documenting, and preserving historical data and artifacts.  And, just as we were pulling it all together, Donella Lucero retired from her job at Fort Columbia as a state parks interpreter and agreed to act as facilitator for our new endeavor!

Community Historians – “One Wednesday Morning”

We had no idea how our plan would be received, but… so far, so good.  In fact, great!  Probably beyond our expectations.  Today marks the beginning of our seventh year and I understand that that we have fifteen participants – some new and some repeating, maybe for the third or fourth time!  One of the great serendipities has been the “community OF historians” that has evolved – people with overlapping interests who collaborate throughout the year on various projects and pursuits.

Jim and I haven’t talked for a while but, when we do, I know we’ll revisit his question of so long ago.  And I think we’ll be pleased as we consider the answer!  Community historians are alive and well and working to preserve all manner of “stories” here in Pacific County!

Christmas Quandary? Here’s Hot Idea #1!

Friday, November 30th, 2018

Community Historians 2013

And here it is! December 1st already!  It’s the day I allow myself to begin thinking about Christmas – the cleaning and polishing and fluffing; the decorating; the gift-making or purchasing; the wrapping.  I know that most people are way ahead of me, but I’m a bit old-fashioned that way.  I don’t like to get ready so early that it’s all a let-down by the Big Day.

Even if you are more modern in your approach to the season and have all your gifts purchased and wrapped, there might still be that special someone on your list that you’d like to do something for, but you’re really not sure what.  Here’s my suggestion:  give them a gift certificate to the 2019 Community Historian Project.  It will entitle them to fifteen weeks of classes presented by experts in various (and amazing) aspects of local history, as well as to materials and information that they can explore on their own, and even the possibility of a field trip or two.  They will meet other community members with similar interests but, most likely, with very diverse backgrounds.  And they may even come away with a new interest or passion.

Aaron Webster, Flintknapper Extraordinaire

All that for $100!  How I wish that the Community Historians had been up and running when my dad was still alive.  He would have loved it!  And he was the quintessential “man who has everything” and was the one I wracked my brain over year after year.  But he’s been gone for 27 years now (OMG!  Has it been that long?) and the Community Historian Project is just entering its seventh season – just entering its prime!

Of course, there are a few “prerequisites” for participants besides filling out the application (which you can do for someone else if it’s a gift – they can fine-tune it later).  The participant has to be available to attend “classes” at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum every Wednesday morning for fifteen weeks beginning January 16th.  It helps if participants are interested in Pacific County history or, at least, have a healthy sense of curiosity and eagerness to learn.

Coast Guard Station at Cape D

And if participants might have a special connection or bit of knowledge related to our community, so much the better.  The greatest serendipities of the Community Historian experience are the unexpected alliances that occur when people discover that their interests intersect with an aspect that someone else is pursuing.  It is definitely one of those “infinite-ripples-in-a-pool” kind of things!

So, if my Hot Idea #1 tickles your fancy at all, I suggest you go to the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museam Community Historian website at http://columbiapacificheritagemuseum.org/community-historian/ and go to the bottom of the page and “Click Here.”  And while you’re filling out an application for that special recipient on your Christmas list, consider filling out one for yourself!  If you love learning about our past, you’ll love being part of the Community Historian Project!

“The Graveyard of the Pacific…”

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Exhibition Announcement

This Friday evening, November 16th from 5:00 to 7:00, is the opening reception for a new exhibition at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, “The Graveyard of the Pacific: Dangerous Currents, Shifting Sands.” More than 20 ships will be featured in the exhibition along with historic artifacts, photographs, and first-person accounts from the Admiral Benson, the Alice, the Potrimpos, and the Glenmorag.

Those of us who live on the Lower Columbia are familiar with the term “Graveyard of the Pacific” which probably originated during the earliest days of maritime fur trade.  Some local residents may even have ancestors or relatives or friends who have fallen victim to the unpredictable weather conditions and treacherous coastal characteristics that have caused more than 2,000 shipwrecks and along the Pacific Northwest Coast with some 700 lives lost.

The Graveyard of the Pacific

Included in the exhibition are special tributes to two men who have raised our awareness about the history of shipwrecks along our coast – Charles Fitzpatrick and James A. Gibbs.  Fitzpatrick, an Ocean Park photographer from the late 1920s through the 1960s, documented wrecks that came in during that time period and memorialized others through his postcards.  In 1950, noted shipwreck historian Gibbs wrote Pacific Graveyard, still considered the definite work on this “shore of lost ships” as he called the area.  Also highlighted will be the U.S. Life Saving Service, the U.S. Coast Guard and volunteer rescue units who have risked, or even given, their lives to saving victims of maritime accidents.

Charles Fitzpatrick Postcard

The exhibition will be on view from November 16 through March 9, 2019 – roughly coinciding with what has been called “shipwreck season” along our coast.  Although modern aids to navigation have greatly reduced the number of shipwrecks since the 1920s, there are still lives lost each year.

Every resident who lives here, whether they simply endure, greatly enjoy, or actually revel in our winter storms should see this exhibition!

Stand Up Straight and Other Bad Advice

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

Security Guard Richard Schroeder, 2017

Richard Schroeder makes the best ever Security Guard for the 6×6 Art Auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  He is a natural.  He stands motionless for hours at a time.  He remains expressionless.  His mirrored dark glasses look… well, ominous.  And, this year, the handcuffs dangling at his waist cause most of the riff-raff to keep their distance.

In fact, when Richard toppled over the other night while on duty, not a single riff or raff took advantage of the situation.  No one stormed the art-filled cases.  No one snuck along on tippy-toe silently taking artwork off the silent auction tables.  In fact, a respectful hush fell over the crowd.  Richard the Indomitable had collapsed.  Whatever had happened?

I messaged his wife Dian the next morning to see how he was doing.  Her response: “Sydney and Nyel – thank you for your concern.  He’s ok, heck of a goose egg & probably two black eyes, about a 2 inch cut on his head.  No stitches, they just closed the laceration with surgical glue.  He basically fainted… vasovagal syncope … drop in blood pressure, dehydration, no food & standing too long without movement.  All tests were negative re: any other damage but we’ll be checking in with our primary physician tomorrow.”

The Presbyterian Choir with The Singing Saints, 2007

Whew!  And click, click, click.  It all fell into place, just like that.  Vasovagal syncope is something we warn school kids about – or at least we used to back when I was teaching.  With little kids we usually didn’t use the “vasovagal syncope” words.  We just said something like “Don’t let your knees lock. Keep them a little bit bent.”  Those words weren’t heard often – mostly just before a class was to go on stage and stand on the bleachers through a few songs at the Christmas program or the Spring Sing.

I can’t remember if we’d warn them that they might faint if they forgot and stiffened their legs.  It was all an oversimplification, anyway, but in the 39 years of school programs I attended, we never had a kid go down.  I wish someone has given Richard a little pre-performance pep talk.  It was usually the music teacher who did it at Ocean Park and Long Beach Schools.

Richard and Betsy – Before the Fall

According to one online site:
Vasovagal syncope (vay-zoh-VAY-gul SING-kuh-pee) occurs when you faint because your body overreacts to certain triggers, such as the sight of blood or extreme emotional distress. It may also be called neurocardiogenic syncope. The vasovagal syncope trigger causes your heart rate and blood pressure to drop suddenly. That leads to reduced blood flow to your brain, causing you to briefly lose consciousness. Vasovagal syncope is usually harmless and requires no treatment. But it’s possible you may injure yourself during a vasovagal syncope episode. Your doctor may recommend tests to rule out more serious causes of fainting, such as heart disorders.

The Well-Guarded Culprits

Before you faint due to vasovagal syncope, you may experience some of the following:
     Pale skin
     Lightheadedness
     Tunnel vision — your field of vision narrows so that you see only what’s in front of you
     Nausea
     Feeling warm
     A cold, clammy sweat
     Yawning
     Blurred vision
During a vasovagal syncope episode, bystanders may notice:
     Jerky, abnormal movements
     A slow, weak pulse
     Dilated pupils
Recovery after a vasovagal episode generally begins in less than a minute. However, if you stand up too soon after fainting — within about 15 to 30 minutes — you’re at risk of fainting again.

UPDATE FROM DIAN:  ” … turns out he did have a concussion. Now dealing with post concussion symptoms. Headaches, dizziness, nausea etc.”

We are so sorry.  Next year:  a Security Guard for the Security Guard?

 

In the Thick of Proud

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

Tucker and Sydney

If I’d had any buttons, I’d have burst them for sure.  Last night at the 6×6 Art Auction our friend and neighbor’s oil painting went for the next-to-highest price.  And, really, if you are at all familiar with the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’s annual fund-raiser, you know that the sock monkey painting (always submitted by Leslie Hall Lipe and always acquired by Karla Nelson and always fetching top dollar) is in a class by itself.

There was a serious bidding war for Tucker’s painting.  It came down to two people on opposite sides of the room and, unbeknownst to them during the bidding tumult, they actually know one another.  In the end, it was Kenny Tam who took “Oysterville Regatta” home with him and his smile was as big as if he had won the actual race.

Won by Kenny Tam

It was a wonderful ending to a fabulous evening.  This was the ninth annual and I think it was the best one yet.  Certainly, it was the most crowded necessitating opening up a side-room-storage area and setting up several tables there.  Auctioneer Bruce Peterson immediately dubbed it the “VIP Room” and hinted that next year it will include a hot tub – or was it a massage table?  In true VIP fashion, the bidding was hot and heavy from that area, and the Wine Tasting Dinner for Six donated by the Shelburne Inn went for more than $1,000 to a man rumored to have a 6,000-bottle wine cellar in his South Carolina home.  Wow!

Our table was in the middle-ish on the north side of the big room.  We had reserved it hoping to accommodate Nyel’s wheelchair.  It was perfect!  Bill and Sue Grennan, along with Tucker and Carol shared the table with us and I felt absolutely honored to be sitting next to the artist, himself!  They always say “pride cometh before a fall,” but I don’t think taking pride in a friend’s accomplishments is quite the same.

Sock Monkey of the Wild Northwest

The whole evening was glorious – the art seemed better than ever, there were lots and lots of friends in attendance, the food and beverages were perfect, and the staff did everything so seamlessly, you’d think this was a daily activity.  And, while the entire audience was full of quiet concern when “Security Guard” Richard Schroeder toppled over, even that event was handled smoothly.  Dr. Weaver (whose wife is always a contributing artist) was in attendance, the EMTs came quickly and, as the audience clapped, Richard gave a wave from the gurney as he was carried out.  The last we heard, he should be fine.

And thanks, Tucker, for giving Oysterville’s Regatta a solid place in the local art world.  Can you hear us calling for “More!  More!”?