Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’

Mentioning Unmentionables and More!

Thursday, February 27th, 2020

It took four helpers to get the corset laced up tight!  Photo by Tucker.

Yesterday, our Community Historians were treated to a rare program, indeed!  Tames Alan,  actress, historian, and fashion history teacher, brought us “The Intrepid Victorian Traveler.”  Billed as “a five-costume program,” she gave us a look at the clothing and lifestyle of a Victorian woman during the mid-1850s throught the early 1860s.

The program fit right into the focus of Community Historians this year — the grand resort hotels of the 19th century here at the North Beach.  It was a time when families “removed” to the seashore from the hot inland valleys of Oregon — some to “camp” in tents they could rent in Tinkerville (now Long Beach), and the more affluent to stay in upscale accommodations such as the Shelburne or the Breakers or the Driftwood hotels.

Next, the hoop!  Photo by Tucker.

Tames first appeared in a wrapper (our equivalent: a bathrobe) and told how a Victorian woan began her day.  Then, before our very eyes, she dressed for travel to the seaside, beginning with a complete (and extensive!) set of Victorian undergarments, discussing their various functions.  Finally, she prepared for a formal dinner and dance, all the time discussing the many layers women wore, the tight lacing of the corset, the circumference of the hoops, the weight of the clothing (which could reach 2oo lbs.).  As she demonstrated the restrictions  Victorian clothing placed upon a woman’s movements, she also spoke of the social constrictions placed upon women at all levels of society.

Ready For The Journey

A fabulous program!  If you ever have an opportunity to see Tames Alan in performance, don’t think twice!  You’ll love her!  And, if you’re like I am, afterwards you’ll appreciate your jeans and sweatshirts even more than usual!

P is for… Pleased as Punch!

Thursday, February 6th, 2020

Yesterday at our weekly Community Historians gathering, the class was devoted to the early history of Pacific County government.  It’s a topic that we’ve only touched upon lightly over the years — almost “in passing” you might say.  So, last fall when we were planning the sessions for 2020 (our 8th year!), I suggested that we devote one of our 2020 sessions to the beginnings of our county.

So it was that class members gathered around tables in “the little conference room” at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum yesterday for a read-aloud experience using my 2004 book, K is for Kidnapping the County Seat – The A-B-Cs of Early Government in Pacific County, Washington.  I think there were eighteen of us but (of course!) I didn’t think to take a picture which might have corroborated that impression.

It took about an hour and a half to read through the book, each of us reading a page in turn.  I had provided sticky-notes for people to use for marking pages or points they’d like to discuss afterwards — so we wouldn’t get sidetracked during the reading.

From my viewpoint it went very well.  We spent the rest of our time (about twenty minutes) discussing points that people had “marked” —  in particular, specifics about early Donation Land Claims, the  changes in the distribution of our population over the years, and how improvements in transportation have affected the location of the county seat.

I came home feeling  elated — not just because I thought the class session was successful.  Far, far beyond that!  I felt totally gratified that I had witnessed, first-hand, this book being read (and enjoyed!) by a group of adults interested in our local history.  That was my intent in writing it, but in retrospect I have realized that I should never have packaged it as an A-B-C book.

As I explained to yesterday’s class,  from the get-go, my A-B-C series were written specifically for adults who want a basic overview of a subject. Whether it be O is for Oysters or C is for Papa Train or any of the other nine titles in the series, these books were NOT written for children.  A glance at the concepts and vocabulary should be the first clue.  They were written for people who want some factual information about our history — whether it be an industry or an event — but who don’t have time or inclination to read a more definitive treatment.

Nevertheless, I have been unable to convince booksellers or the buying public that A-B-Cs can mean “nuts and bolts” about a subject… that A-B-C books are not necessarily meant for Kindergartners.  Maybe if I had named the series something like “Information for Dummies” they’d have had a better reception among my target audience.  You know what they say about hindsight…

P.S.  Lest you think I’m name-calling potential readers, I want to point out that a very successful series on basic information about a variety of subjects had “Dummies” in the title.  Hence my reference.

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!