Posts Tagged ‘Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum’

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!

2017 Community Historian Project

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

cphm-community-historian-front-header-1-400x270I was so glad to learn yesterday that the planning for year five of the Community Historian Project is well underway.  Application forms are available at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco.

The Community Historian Project meets each Wednesday for fifteen weeks, 9:30 to noon, January through mid- April.  The focus is Pacific County’s history and heritage and, for 2017, the first session is January 11th and the last is April 19th. Each session is made up of expert guest speakers, tours and demonstrations and this year will cover topics ranging from “Our Unique “Environment” and “Early Pacific Coast Native People” to “Maritime Archaeology: Shipwrecks of the Pacific” and “Summer Settlement of Our Pacific Beach.”  The fee is $100 — less than $7.00 a session, which has to be one of the all-time greatest education values ever!   Scholarships are also available.

2016-community-historians-1Participants are encouraged to develop a personal project that can be researched during the course. Recent projects have included an exhibition on the keepers of North Head Lighthouse, research on the Ilwaco, Railway and Navigation Company, and a project to map the historic community of Bear River among others.  Some class sessions will be devoted specifically to research techniques and, this year will include “Self-Publishing: Do’s and Don’ts” for those who might have a book in mind as an end-product.  (How I wish that such a class had been available when I self-published my first book C is for Cranberries back in 1998.)

copyright-cphm-community-historian-header-1024x350The goal of the Community Historian Project is to develop a cohesive group of knowledgeable people, who can be called upon for information and who can become a heritage resource to their communities. So far, dozens of community members from both Pacific County and from other Washington and Oregon Counties have participated.  Several people have attended for more than one year, pursuing their interest and assisting newcomers.   Our communities are the richer for their knowledge, their expertise, and their continuing interest and networking!  Hats off to the keepers of our history and heritage!

Mike Lemeshko: Author!

Thursday, September 8th, 2016
Mike Lemeshko and His New Book

Mike Lemeshko and His New Book

“I just sold my first book!” he told us yesterday afternoon.  Mike Lemeshko was talking about The Cantankerous Farmer vs. The Ilwaco Railway & Navigation Company and the rest of his neighbors on the Long Beach Peninsula – his hot-off-the-press, self-published book about Judge John Briscoe (1812 – 1901)I couldn’t have been more pleased had I been saying those words myself!

In the book’s preface, Mike tells how the book came to be – from an intriguing first ‘introduction’ to “the cantankerous farmer” in 2010, through the six-year journey that has resulted in this 100-page volume, complete with photographs and a thorough documentation of sources.  I was surprised to find myself in his acknowledgements and, though his words were kind and perhaps true from his perspective, from my own point of view I was simply one of many who clapped and cheered from the sidelines.

We met three (almost four) years ago at a Community Historian class.  I was impressed that a) Mike was ‘commuting’ to Ilwaco every week from Bothell; b) that he was part-owner of the Anchorage Cottages, a long-time Peninsula landmark; and c) that he was hoping to learn more about the man who had taken out the original Donation Land Claim for that property back in 1853!  I knew a little about John Briscoe – he and his family had lived next door to my great-grandparents in Oysterville in those early days.  Mike and I talked a bit that first day of class, and so our friendship began!  And so did the clapping and cheering.

By Mike Lemeshko

By Mike Lemeshko

During that first fifteen weeks, Mike was the most attentive ‘student’ ever.  He took notes, quizzed the speakers, talked with classmates.  He was curious about everything – where and how to proceed with research, who to contact for further information, who Briscoe’s descendants were…  In the next few years he returned for more Community Historian classes and it wasn’t long before he, himself, was the go-to guy for the how-to questions!  When it comes to researching local history, Mike Lemeshko ‘knows where the bodies are buried.’

No one could have been more delighted than I when Mike began talking about putting what he had learned into book form.  “I’m not a writer,” he would say.  In fact, that’s what he said yesterday when he presented me with a copy of the book.  Maybe not.  But he is now an author and documentarian and, I hope, on his way to another book!

The Cantankerous Farmer vs. The Ilwaco Railway & Navigation Company and the rest of his neighbors on the Long Beach Peninsula (and doncha just love that old-fashioned, tell-it-all-on-the-cover title!) is available at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and will, no doubt, be showing up at other local outlets as well.  When you read it, you’ll be clapping and cheering, too!

“Memories of Megler”

Thursday, July 28th, 2016
When the Crossing Was By Ferry

When the Crossing Was By Ferry

On July 29, 1966 the Astoria-Megler Bridge opened.  It was a momentous occasion. “The Bridge to Nowhere,” as the pundits called it, marked the beginning of a new era.  No longer was crossing the Columbia from the Peninsula to Astoria a matter of catching the ferry.  Spur-of-the moment journeys from Washington to Oregon (and the other way around) quickly became the norm and our shopping patterns, doctoring possibilities, traveling opportunities increased many-fold.  To say nothing of tourism.

Like most of my peers who were on the Peninsula more than fifty years ago, I remember the ferries very well indeed.  Somehow, they made the trip across the river a full-blown adventure.  From waiting in the long line of cars, hoping you’d make it onto the next ferry and not have to wait over, to the rush upstairs to the promise of a milkshake (if you had a quarter), going over to Astoria was a rare treat for most of us.

Megler Ferry Landing, c. 1930s

Megler Ferry Landing, c. 1930s

Another loss has been the ability to make the crossing sans vehicle.  From the beginning, when the ferry schedule coordinated with the train and later when cars could be left along the roadside or at the carpark, passengers could board the ferry, spend a few hours or more in Astoria and return to the Peninsula as pedestrians.  I can still remember that little thrill of anxiety when it got close to boarding time for the homeward voyage.  “Hurry!  We don’t want to miss this ferry!”

Nowadays, of course, the journey is pretty much a matter of course.  I do have a friend or two who won’t drive over the bridge, although they will go as passengers – “too scary” they say.  And, stories of ferry journeys have become the stuff of nostalgia.  Only vestiges remain of the ferry landings and photographs of them in their heyday have segued into the ‘vintage’ category.   Fifty years have gone by and it’s time for a celebration!

Megler Landing in the Days of the Steamers

Megler Landing in the Days of the Steamers

So… tomorrow, a don’t-miss-exhibition, “Memories of Megler,” opens at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum with a reception from 5:00 to 7:00. According to the CPHM website, the exhibit will explore Megler from its acquisition by the Ilwaco Railroad and Navigation Company through the steam-ship era and into the auto-ferry years.  Utilizing historic photographs and first person memories, “Memories of Megler” captures the end of the ferry era and the beginning of contemporary auto travel on U.S. Highway 101.

I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Stunning! Simply Stunning!

Saturday, May 14th, 2016
Nyel, Sydney, Rich

Nyel, Sydney, Rich

In summation:  loved the book, loved the exhibit, loved meeting the author!  I’m talking here about last night’s reception for the opening of Rich Bergeman’s “Swan’s Land” exhibition at the Columbia Heritage Museum.  Even though I had read and pondered over his book by the same name, I found that seeing the photographs, enlarged and in person, was a glorious experience.  And, meeting the photographer/artist, himself, was the best part of all.

“Sydney!” he called out to me as I approached to introduce myself.  “You look taller in your blog!”  It was by-far-and-away the most unusual greeting from a heretofore unmet person I’d ever received.  Rich was standing with Betsy Millard and Cate Gabel and we all burst into laughter.  And that was stunning, too!

"Swan's Land" - The Book

“Swan’s Land” – The Book

We talked for a bit about his book and about other projects that he’s done, now that he is retired.  A writer, editor and educator during his career, and a fine art photographer for over 25 years, Rich now devotes himself to chronicling the disappearing traces of bygone days in the Pacific Northwest.

The inspiration for Swan’s Land came from James Swan’s The Northwest Coast; or, Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory.  During his 2015 residency at Willapa Bay AiR in Oysterville, Rich retraced Swan’s steps so that he might photograph what Swan saw back in the early 1850s.  The photographs, taken with infrared film, fairly shimmer with the past, inviting imagination to fill in the ghosts of the “oyster boys” and “Indians north of the Columbia” from Swan’s remarkable book.

I so enjoyed our visit that I forgot to ask Rich what he is working on now.  I expect that Cate found out all the pertinent information and hope it will appear in her column next week!  Meanwhile, I intend to go back and linger over each photograph, read the accompanying excerpts from both books – Swan’s and Bergeman’s – and feel tall from the experience.  As tall as I seem in my blog!

It Was a Matter of ‘Thwarted at Every Turn!’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Betsy Millard

Betsy Millard, Director of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

Doncha hate it when your best intentions go awry?  Not once but twice so far for me when it comes to giving folks a heads up about Betsy Millard’s talk on Thursday, March 31st at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.

I actually made an appointment with Betsy.  We met in her office at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco and I interviewed her for a little article that was to appear in the paper last week on the 23rd – plenty of time to let people know the who, what, why, when, where of it.

But, the paper came out and… nothing.  It happens.  Things get mislaid in the last minute shuffle.  So, I resubmitted the story and picture (just in case it was a consequence of ‘lost’ rather than ‘mislaid’) and I even called to make sure they got it.  Tomorrow will tell the tale and I hope it isn’t too late.

I thought, for insurance purposes, that I would devote today’s blog to Betsy’s scheduled appearance – had the facts at the forefront of mind and fingertips – only to discover that we had no internet service this morning.  Wotthehell?  Apparently, the gods did not want me to spread the word!  Not just then anyway.

Schoolhouse Clock

Lectures Start at 10:00 by the Schoolhouse Clock

What I was really sorry about was that readers might not learn about Betsy’s incredible professional background.  I touched on it a little in my Observer story – enough so that I hope people will ask her a few leading questions at the schoolhouse on Thursday.  Otherwise, I’m not at all sure that Betsy will share some of her interesting past.  She’s usually not one to look back; her focus is almost always on ‘the now’ and ‘the next.’

Those traits, of course, are what make her such a successful Director.  Not that she isn’t ever mindful of the past.  History, after all, is the name of the game.  But… getting to her personal history might take a little prodding.

At the time of this writing, though, my fondest desire was to prod the internet.  My server said that it wasn’t not just me – “a wide-reaching” problem they said,  and they were working on it.  However, I am an optimist by nature and I chose to think that whatever was the matter would soon be corrected.  If not, I could only hope that the usual Peninsula Telegraph Service, word-of-mouth, would prevail.   Even now, it’s a viable thought.