Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’

I could smell the cotton candy!

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Pinball Fun!

The clapping wasn’t over before the balls started rolling the lights began flashing!  It was that never-to-be-forgotten sound – pinball machines in use!  As soon as Tucker had completed his “pinball talk” at the Heritage Museum’s annual meeting yesterday, the crowd dispersed toward the machines – 25 or 30 of them, but who was counting?

Everyone I talked to seemed to have a story that began, “When I was a kid…” and ended “…just like this one!”  Talk about nostalgia!  The room absolutely vibrated with old memories – even if pinball hadn’t really been a part of their lives.  Or maybe I was the only one.  I don’t believe I’ve ever played a pinball machine… so why was it such an amazingly visceral déjà vu?

Pinball Conversation?

Nyel and I spent a long time talking about that afterwards.  BT (Before Tucker) I had truly associated pinball with poolhalls and taverns and, since I’ve never been in either that I can remember… no pinball experiences for me.  My clearest memory of pinball machines is of walking (quickly) by the pool hall on Fourth Street in San Rafael on my way to and from high school.  I tried not to look inside…  but the cigarette and beer fumes drifted out the door and I could hear those pinball machines as clear as clear.

And then Nyel asked, “But didn’t you ever go to an arcade?”  Bingo!  Yes, indeed I did.  The summer I was six or seven I spent two weeks with friends at Russian River.  By day we went to the beach or went for explores in the woods and every night after dinner (or so I remember) we went down to the arcade.  I played Skee-Ball – not exactly a pinball machine but they were all around me as I spent nickel after nickel trying to rack up my score.

Time Traveler?

I think I was sort of addicted!  I was bound and determined to win a creamer and sugar set to take home to my mother – and I finally did.  I can still remember my disappointment that neither she nor my dad seemed at all impressed at my accomplishment.  Nor did mom ever use the treasures I had worked so hard to get.  In the cupboard they went, never to be seen again.

I think that was the end of my interest in ‘gambling.’  Saved from a lifetime of debauchery at seven years old!  Wow!  I’m not sure if it’s that Russian River arcade at Guerneville that I associate with pinball or not, but how else to account for the smell of cotton candy that was so clear to me yesterday?

Thanks for the memories, Tucker!  Hurry up and set up your pinball museum right here in Oysterville!  I have a lot of lost time to make up for – a mis-spent youth for sure!  Who knew?

Tomorrow, meet the quintessential Tucker!

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Tucler and His Pin Ball Machines

Tucker Wachsmuth is an artist, a storyteller, a collector. a photographer, a sailor, and now and then, when he leads all the kids in town on a historical scavenger hunt, he’s the Pied Piper of Oysterville.  He loves to help and is the one the neighbors count on to bring his chain saw or maybe a special tool or a ladder to the rescue.  Perhaps more than anything else, Tucker loves to have fun.  It’s almost a given that he will drop everything to play a game of whiffle golf if only you will ask!  Tucker is definitely “a man of many parts.”

Danielle and Opa Tucker, 2012

But it’s when he’s talking about his pinball collection that Tucker really shines!  Tomorrow at 1:00 he will be doing just that as speaker at the annual meeting of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  He’ll be telling about some of his more unusual machines, how he came to have them, and how he came to be one of the preeminent collectors of pinball machines in the Northwest.

His pinball machines date back to the early ’30s when they first became popular in the United States. On display will be machines from that decade and on through the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.  He’ll explain how the machines gradually became more complex with electric bumpers and the addition of flippers giving the games a greater challenge.  And, he’ll point out the changes in pinball artwork as it evolved decade by decade.

Tucker Demonstrates Oyster Tongs, 2014

I hope he talks a little bit about how he got into collecting and about the discoveries he made along the way – especially about himself!  To me, that’s the most interesting part of Tucker’s pinball story!  No hints here, but I’ll surely give him a nudge if he skips over that part tomorrow!

And the best part of all – fifteen of the pinballs will be on display and available for audience members to play at the conclusion of his talk. Don’t forget your nickels!

High Water Slack

Monday, February 12th, 2018

Naselle-Grays River Valley School

Every year about this time, the Pacific County Historical Society (headquarters: South Bend) holds its annual meeting in Naselle.  The gathering is always timed to coincide with the American Legion Auxiliary Smorgasbord – a fabulous array of main dishes and desserts with, as you might expect, a distinctive Finnish emphasis.  The luncheon is served, cafeteria-style, in the Commons at the Naselle-Grays River Valley School and the PCHS meeting takes place just down the hall.

We went with our neighbors Carol and Tucker, or rather they went with us.  Nyel drove and, in typical old folks’ double-date style, Tucker rode shotgun and Carol and I were in the back seat.  We drove the river way – through Chinook, past the Columbia River Quarantine Station and into Naselle.  Carol and Tucker had never been on the school campus before and they seemed properly impressed at its size and layout.

Quarantine Station at Kanpton

Quarantine Station at Knappton Cove

The guest speaker at the PCHS meeting was Betsy Millard, Director of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum (headquarters: Ilwaco) and the audience was comprised of history buffs from both sides of the bay, many of them members of both PCHS and CPHM.  I couldn’t help thinking back to the 1980s when CPHM was just beginning and how we all wondered how if our little county could sort out having two museums devoted to local history.  Although there were rocky spots along the way, thanks to the professionalism and leadership of both organizations, they continue to support and bolster one another.

Betsy’s talk was grand – complete with a power point accompaniment and sprinkled throughout with mentions of people who happened to be in the audience – giving kudos and credits to their contributions over the years. I couldn’t help but think about the dynamic quality of both organizations – of the ebb and flow of energy and commitment by the volunteers and staffs and how, right now, there seems to be a feeling of forward movement, collections and organization-wise, on both sides of the bay.

Point Ellice from Megler Rest Stop

On our way home, the river looked full.  And quiet.  I wondered if it was high water slack – that time when there is no movement either way in the tidal stream occurring right before the direction of the tidal stream reverses – “a time when the water is completely unstressed” says one dictionary definition. Sort of like the feeling between CPHM and PCHS – a kind of détente.  Like river and ocean, each organization is on the move but where they meet is a place of calm.  For the moment in the case of the Pacific and the Columbia and for the duration, I hope, in the case of our repositories of county history.  Probably a dumb analogy, but there you have it…  I probably just like the sound of “high water slack.”

…with pinballs and the Brownsmead Flats

Thursday, November 16th, 2017

The Brownsmead Flats

“Flashback: Remembering the 60s, Part 2” tomorrow evening at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum with a “Coffeehouse Concert” featuring the music of the Brownsmead Flats.  There will also be a few minutes to peek at the expanded 60s exhibit which now includes a couple of our neighbor Tucker Wachsmuth’s pinball machines.   Woot! Woot!  It’s not clear yet if Nyel and I will be there but I have my fingers crossed.  I am eager to celebrate the sixties – even though I’m a decade or two off, memory-wise.

The pinball games I remember were often going on at the Pool Hall in San Rafael during the 1950s.  Not that I was a participant.  Heavens no!  Until my friends and I were old enough to drive and could finagle a way to borrow the family car, we walked to high school.  For me, it was a mile or two down Fourth Street, right through a rather questionable part of town – past the Greyhound Bus Depot on one side of the street and the Pool Hall on the other.

Tucker wih His Pinball Machines

There were a lot of sleazy characters hanging out around both buildings, but we walked on the Pool Hall side – mostly so we could glance in and see which of our classmates (the guys with DA haircuts and cigarette packs tucked into their rolled-up tee shirt sleeves) were catching a few games before classes began.  Mostly they played pool but, occasionally we’d see them at the pinball machines, always looking a bit frantic or desperate it seemed to me.  Money was scarce in those years (1953-1957) and ‘wasting’ a quarter on pinball or pool seemed the height of decadence, at least to me.

Coffee Houses were big in the fifties, too, but mostly in North Beach in San Francisco – way off limits to ‘nice girls’ in Marin County, clear across the Golden Gate.  It wasn’t until the seventies that I had a hands-on Coffee House experience.  I was teaching in Hayward and a group of parents wanted to bring folksinger Stan Wilson to Hayward, especially for the teenagers of the area.  Since Stan was a friend of mine, I was the one who was asked to convince him to donate an evening.  It wasn’t a problem – Stan was all about kids and music and readily agreed to make the trip from Berkeley for the evening.

Charlie’s Coffee House Poster c. 1970

The organizers rented ‘a hall’ – an abandoned restaurant in the old Green Shutter Hotel in Hayward (also sorta sleazy as I recall) – and we had a decorating session with a bunch of local high school kids.  I took Charlie along (I think he was a freshman) and he set about making a huge poster (that I still have) full of pop comic book characters.  I remember being blown away that he didn’t us a single reference – all drawn by memory with felt-tipped markers in an hour or two.  It was my first real inkling of the extent of his art abilities.

I find it interesting to think about how we dignify ideas and experiences as time passes.  Things that might have been just a little edgy (perhaps not quite in a good way) when they began and then became popular, but take on a patina of gentrification as we look back on them.  Or maybe I’ve always been half a bubble off.  In any case, I can’t wait to see what other memories Friday night’s experience at CPHM will trigger.

With My Arms Full of the 1960s!

Sunday, November 5th, 2017

“Think Small” by Noel Thomas

Actually, I’m not sure which was closer to overflowing – my arms or my heart!  Both were laden as we came home last night from the 8th Annual 6×6 Art Show and Auction at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum.  Two coveted art treasures plus a profusion of memories and the warm glow of a perfect evening!

“Something Happening Here” was the event’s theme, inspired by the current special exhibition, “Flashback: Remembering the 1960s.”  And remember we did!  Two pieces of artwork, especially, called out to me – Jean Nitzel’s “POW” and Noel Thomas’s “Think Small.”  And we came home with both!  Unbelievable!  Both artists are long-time friends. Both paintings brought a multitude of flashbacks and connections – how the pop art of the 60s influenced both Charlie and Marta in their chosen careers and visions of the VW bugs we had all through the 60s and beyond.

Security Guard Richard Schroeder

Auctioneer Bruce Peterson was in his element.  OMG!  Was he really at Woodstock?  Could he truly see back beyond all the gray heads in the audience and ‘know’ what we were up to all those decades ago?  He wasn’t more than three sentences into the evening before he had bound us together, friends and strangers alike, into one wonderful glow of shared remembrances.  We laughed and nodded knowingly whether we’d been to the Haight or not.

As Bruce brought each piece of art to life, he seemed to connect the dots that Museum Director Betsy Millard had expressed so cogently on their webpage: “Many of the artists have dug deep into their memories to create some remarkable works that touch on themes common to both the 1960s and today.  From music to social justice protests, the 1960s continue to inspire creative expression.”

“POW” by Jean Nitzel

And… speaking of ‘expression.’  There was never a change in Security Guard Richard Schroeder’s!  He is the master of ‘holding a pose’ and when he stopped by our table afterwards to say ‘hello,’ – without his shades and full of smiles — neither Carol nor Tucker recognized him, though they had been admiring his devotion to duty all evening long!

For a couple who are never lucky in matters of raffles and auctions, coming home with the only two works of art that we especially coveted was more than amazing.  I give a lot of the credit to the teeny tiny red origami cranes that dangled from my ears – a gift of ‘good luck’ from our friend Kenny who brought them to me from his recent trip to Japan.  It was the first time they had ventured out with me and I could almost feel the karma gathering.

An Origami Crane for Good Luck!

It was an evening to remember and, you can be sure, that the two pieces of artwork will be ‘Forever Reminders.’

Last night, everybody knew our name!

Friday, May 26th, 2017

Nanci and Jimella’s Cafe

The thing about living in a small community – I’m talking the ‘greater’ community of the Long Beach Peninsula – is that, no matter where you go, you know someone.  At the bank, the drugstore, the DMV office, the post office – everyplace and on every errand – you will see someone you know.  It’s at once reassuring and annoying.

The reassuring part is that if you fall down in a dead faint someone can tell the EMTs who you are (although they, too, will probably know you.)  The annoying part (only slightly) is that everything takes a long time.  No dashing into the grocery store to grab a forgotten item and out again in two minutes flat.  Nope. You can pretty much count on being waylaid for a brief chat.  Or two or three.

Nanci at Work – May 25, 2017

It’s a bit more unusual, however, to go to the spiffiest restaurant at the North End at beginning of a huge tourist weekend and know someone at almost every table!  But, so it was last night in Klipsan Beach at Nanci and Jimella’s Café.  And if we didn’t know them, they seemed to know us.  It was the most remarkable feeling and, without a doubt, almost everyone in the restaurant felt the same way.

There was table-hopping and waving and hugs and laughter and Nanci Main, of course, was right in the thick of it.  The community had gathered to say “goodbye” to Nanci-the-baker-the-chef-the-standard-bearer-of-fine-dining! It was one of our last chances to say goodbye to the quintessential Queen of Hospitality here at the beach.

Wishful Thinking?

Saturday will mark Nanci’s last official workday.   After 45 years in the restaurant biz – most of them spent in three locations (Shelburne, Ark, Café) here on the Peninsula – Nanci is retiring!  The restaurant is for sale and Nanci is on to other things.  She promises some “pop-up” appearances now and then, like a dinner in June in honor of her dad who was a WWII veteran.  And she may do a bit of traveling.

But, knowing Nanci, she won’t be idle, probably not for a minute.  Giving to others is what she’s all about and I have no doubt that she will reinvent herself so she can continue doing just that.  Meanwhile, this weekend the community is gathering to say thank you and wish her well.  We’re so happy that we were there too!

One Reception Plus One Ribbon-Cutting

Friday, May 12th, 2017

From the CPHM website

This weekend, like almost every other one around this neck of the woods, is starting off in grand style.  Tonight, an opening and reception at Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and tomorrow afternoon a ribbon-cutting at the Chinook School.  Both events have significant connections to our local history.

The exhibition, opening tonight at CPHM with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00, is called “Oregon’s Botanical Landscape: An Opportunity to Imagine Oregon before 1800.” It consists of 82 paintings representing the native plants of Oregon’s eight Ecoregions. The artist, Frances Stilwell, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio and, two years after receiving her MS degree in Botany-Biophysics, moved to Oregon in 1969.  In order to define her new home, she began to learn about and draw Oregon’s native plants.

By Frances Stilwell

Before 1800, of course, there was no Oregon State or even an Oregon Territory.  The region beyond the Mississippi River was simply known as “The Western Frontier” so it makes sense that five of those Oregon ecoregions of today extend into Washington State.  As CPHM Director Betsy Millard says about the exhibit, “It reinforces our shared natural history that binds us regardless of state lines.”

The 1:00 P.M.  ribbon-cutting tomorrow at the newly restored Chinook School represents more recent history. It’s a piece of our community story that could easily have been lost in the name of ‘progress’ were in not for the collaboration of the Ocean Beach School District, the Port of Chinook and the formation of the Friends of Chinook School.’  Since 2004, the FOCS have worked toward this culminating event.

Christmas 2016

The present-day school building in Chinook was the third to be constructed on the site once known as “Gile’s Woods.”  The first school in that location was described by Lewis R. Williams his 1924 book, “Chinook by the Sea:”

 In 1892, the school which had been conducted for many years on the Prest Place was now moved over to the Cross Road in Gile’s woods to accommodate the children of parents who now moved to Chinook to engage in the fishing industry.  A large playground, consisting of an acre, donated by Mr. Gile, was cleared in the thick stand of spruce trees and a neat little school building erected near the road.  For years, this little building served as a community house to the country round about…

Before founding the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Angus Bowmer taught at Chinook School

By 1899, the student population had outgrown the small one-story school and a two-story building was constructed to replace it. The third and final Chinook School was built in 1927. During its construction, some classes were held in a large building that had been constructed in 1924 – a building that would eventually become the school’s gym.   Neither of the buildings, now renovated, have been used as part of the public school system since consolidation in 1966.  The plan is for both to continue in the “community house” tradition described by L.R. Williams.

See you at the schoolhouse Thursday!

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Oysterville Schoolhouse 2008

The current series of Schoolhouse Lectures here in Oysterville are drawing record numbers of folks from the greater community – close to standing room only, in fact.  Who’d a thunk it? Three years ago, when Diane Buttrell had the idea of holding a series of “old fashioned Town Meetings and Lectures” at the Historic Oysterville Schoolhouse, she asked me to do a little write-up for the paper.  I wasn’t quite sure what her concept was and, after asking for clarification, I still felt foggy about it.

“They aren’t really ‘Town Meetings’ in the traditional sense,” she told me.  “And they won’t be strictly lectures.  More like eye-opening get-togethers among friends.”  In retrospect, I’m not sure even Diane realized how those ‘get-togethers’ would gather momentum and become an every-other-Thursday ‘event’ throughout the greater community.  “I’ll see you at the schoolhouse Thursday,” has become a commonplace expression from one end of the Peninsula to the other.

Diane Buttrell

That first series of talks back in the spring of 2014 had a loosely thought-out theme based on Diane’s desire to provide an opportunity for us community members to meet and talk with some of our amazing neighbors.  “Most of us probably aren’t aware of the broad range of experience and expertise we have in our midst!” she said.

The very first speaker was geoscientist/engineer, Dr. Clayton Ralph Nichols, at the time, Chairman of the National Academy of Science Committee on Earth Resources.  “I doubt that many people know that as Al Gore made his initial presentations on climate change, it was ‘our’ Clay Nichols who was asked to talk with him about the complexities of the subject,” Buttrell says.  “That’s something that just doesn’t come up in everyday conversation.”

Jim Sayce Back in the Day c. 1985

And so it went.  Each week for six weeks we saw a new (and often unknown) side of friends and neighbors. Predictably, we wanted more.  Diane has enthusiastically complied by organizing a fall and spring series each year – sometimes with a clear theme, sometimes as general as the current focus on “local lore.”  Thus far, forty-some speakers have shared their expertise and memories with audiences that have grown and grown.  The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is taping each session and, in addition to adding them to their oral history archive, they are making them available on YouTube.  Who knew?

This week Jim Sayce, Executive Director of the Pacific County Economic Development Council, will talk about “Growing Up Local.”  Jim has lived here for all but ten of his 62 years and his memories are mostly through his ears! And to find out what that’s all about – see you at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at ten o’clock Thursday morning!

A Day of Contrasts

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

News Conference, 1-11-2017

Thank goodness George Orwell’s Thought Police (“Thinkpol” in Newspeak in his novel 1984) have not yet materialized in this old world of ours.  Or, at least, not that we know of.  I’m pretty sure that if they were ensconced in our lives, I would have been under arrest before bedtime last night.  It was watching news clips from our President-Elect’s news conference that pushed me to the brink.

There is no doubt in my mind (the font of my evil thoughts) that Mr. Tweety will, indeed be running his corporate mega-world in concert with his duties as President.  He is confident that he can and, so far, it doesn’t seem that he’s been serious about putting an alternate plan in place.  In fact, I truly believe that he thinks our country can just fall under the umbrella of his corporate holdings.

Meanwhile, our “leadership” dithers and tries to carry on “as usual.”  Inauguration Day is looming and I’ve heard no ultimatums put out there.  No lines drawn in the sand.  No serious plans for holding to the traditions and Constitutional requirements for the Presidency.  It’s all gray areas and my personal gray matter is stretched beyond endurance.  Don’t tell the Thought Police!!!

A Community Historian Session with Kathleen Sayce

By contrast, yesterday morning marked the beginning of Year Five of our Community Historian classes.  There are seventeen taking the class this time around – a wonderful mix of those who have taken it once or twice (or even four!) times before and new people to the class and even to our community.  Everyone is enthusiastic and committed to learning more about Pacific County history and finding ways to tell others all about it.  By now, we have a strong cadre of ‘experts’ concerning one aspect or another of our history – the portages, the jetties, heritage fruit trees, the provenance of Seaview ‘cottages,”  you name it!   All those and more came up yesterday as areas of interest and focuses for continuing research.

Why are we community historians so passionate about our past?  Is it that we hope to learn from it and thus avoid some of the pitfalls we can see coming?   Or… are we taking refuge in the times that are safely behind us?  Are we avoiding a look into that cloudy crystal ball that tweets and equivocates and twists the truth?

Whatever the reasons, maybe the ‘other Washington’ needs a Community Historian group.  Is no one at the seat of our government paying attention to our country’s history – to say nothing of the history of other republics that crashed and burned once-upon-a-time?  Is there no one who is interested in where we’ve gone wrong or what we’ve done right over the years of our own republic? And is there no one with enough moxie to just say “NO!” and do something about it?

It was all ‘A State of Mind’

Sunday, November 6th, 2016
"Keep Washington Green III"" by Marie Pwell

“Keep Washington Green III”” by Marie Pwell

Of the many wonderful items at the 6 x 6 Art Show and Auction last night (and not only artwork, either!), there were several I coveted but only a few that I thought did complete justice to the theme. Almost every entry went with the status of one’s consciousness.  Only a few combined that meaning with the literal definition of ‘state’ as in a geographic designation.

Marie Powell’s entries, each a variation of the other, managed to capture the full implications of the topic – a cannabis leaf with a forested background titled “Keep Washington Green” (I, II, and III).  Word play and visual metaphor all in one handsome presentation. I loved them!

"Willapa Bay" by Charles Funk

“Willapa Bay” by Charles Funk

There were others that I bid on, as well, but knew from the get-go that I couldn’t go the distance.  Damn!  Most of those that I was attracted to could just as well have been themed “A Sense of Place” – which I’m sure some would argue is much the same as a state of mind.  Charles Funk’s acrylics, “Willapa Bay” and “Acadia National Park” and Dian Schroeder’s watercolor, “Tarlette Slough” could have happily found places in my home and heart.  For pure state of mind images, perhaps the water color “My State of Mind Sept. 8, 2016” by Noel Thomas or Sandra Lill’s mixed media piece, “she couldn’t seem to get her head out of the clouds” intrigued me most.

The event, itself, went with the geographic meaning of ‘state.’  It was happenstance that we sat at the Idaho table, so designated by a miniature state flag sitting on a map of the  Gem State.  Nyel grew up in Idaho and, I’m sure, felt right at home. Auctioneer Bruce Peterson was… well, inimitable is the only ‘state’ that might describe him.  Security Guard Dick Schroeder was just plain scary and Karla Webber, Communication Headquarters Maven was Ms. Efficiency personified.  Many volunteers under Museum Director Betsy Millard’s seamless management kept things running smoothly throughout the evening.

Security Guard Richard Schroeder

Security Guard Richard Schroeder

As for the other attendees – their collective state of mind was enthusiastic, generous, spirited, and totally supportive of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’s seventh annual auction.  I don’t know what the bottom line, earnings-wise, turned out to be, but the enjoyment factor was, as they say, priceless.  And the food!  CPHM really should find a way to auction that off, too – at least the second helpings.  ‘To die for’ doesn’t half express my state of mind regarding the edibles on offer in the back room!

All in all – another mind-altering success, no matter what state you came from!