Archive for the ‘Chinook Observer’ Category

And NOW the question is: can he read?

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

Daniel Garcia

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “read” this way: look at and comprehend the meaning of written or printed matter by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed. 

My headline for this blog is directed to Pacific County Sheriff Daniel Garcia and conerns Matt Winters’ editorial in today’s Chinook Observer.  In clearly presented topic-by-topic style, Winters’ words offer some very specific suggestions to our young law enforcement leader — should Sheriff Garcia read them.  And, more importantly, should he comprehend their meaning, pointed out by the OED as an integral part of the reading process.  Or, as Nyel often said when flummoxed by the actions or comments by someone who should know better:  “There’s no substitute for brains.”

Garcia’s recent interactions with the John Birch Society even caused a discussion here in Oysterville at last Friday’s traditional get-together — a group of friends and neighbors who have been informally gathering here each week for more than twenty years.  No matter who comes — and there have been many with disparate beliefs and passions — we seldom, if ever, cross that socially acceptable line of discussion regarding politics, sex, or religion.  Last Friday we did.

Shades of Yosemite Sam?

Mostly, remarks focussed on the John Birch Society (JBS) and our incredulity that they had apparently surfaced in Pacific County.  I credit my cousins — both with California backgrounds — for remembering (along with me and several others in the room) the horrors brought about by the Birchers in Orange County in the 1960s.  Perhaps you, too, remember their successful efforts to pass “Prop 14.”

Editorial – July 26, 2023

California Proposition 14 was a November 1964 initiative ballot measure that amended the California state constitution and nullified the 1963 Rumford Fair Housing Act. Prop 14 allowed property sellers, landlords. and their agents to openly discriminate on ethnic grounds when selling or letting accommodations, as they had been permitted to before 1963.  Fortunately, in 1966, the California Supreme Court in a 5–2 split decision declared Proposition 14 unconstitutional.

Those of us who lived through those years in California — even in Northern California, as I did, hundreds of miles from the John Birch epicenter — will never forget.  The thought of our sheriff (or any of our community members and neighbors) going to “private meetings” with JBS members is downright frightening.  Bravo, Matt Winters, for your editorial!  And even if our Sheriff can’t or won’t read it and take it to heart, I hope the majority of our citizens do!



I’m loving the Saints or Sinners feedback!

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Isaac Alonzo Clark’s story was in the May 24, 2023 Observer.

For all of you who have contacted me via email or text or through my blog… Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and interest in my current “Saints or Sinners?” series in the Observer. I’m having such fun researching and writing about these “characters” of Pacific County and I’m delighted that readers are enjoying them.

One comment, however, prompted me to go back and do a bit of counting up.  The writer expressed concern that I was dealing with more men than women.  That’s certainly true to date, but will tend to even out at time goes on.  Thus far, I’ve written 30 stories but, if my count is correct, only 18 of those have been published so far. (And there may well be more!) Those first 18 have featured 11 men, 4 women and several stories involving both a man and a woman.

Cecelia Jane Haguet Johnson Howard’s story was in the June 7, 2023 Observer.

Though I’ve not confined myself to a chronological order, I have leaned rather heavily on early “characters” of Pacific County, and a great preponderance of those — at least those who were written about — were men.  I guess the pioneer women were busy tending to the home fires and not as apt to have snippets of gossip or speculation written about them.  Certainly, they are harder to research!  But in the next weeks, more women will surface as “saints or sinners.”

And, by all means, if you have suggestions for me — especially if you can give me some reliable sources for factual information about them — do share!  I can be reached at and am always interested in a good story about the characters of Pacific County!


On being garrulous (i.e. to rattle on…)

Thursday, July 13th, 2023

Tillicum House – Home of KMUN and Coast Community Radio

Today I went to Astoria’s Tillicum House at the invitation of Dayle Olson, one of the co-producers of a KMUN program called “River Writers,”  a Writer’s Guild 30-minute show hosted on alternate weeks by Dayle and by Marianne Monson.  It airs monthly on second Mondays at 9 AM. and Dayle had kindly asked if I would agree to be taped for an August airing.

I had no idea what to expect.  I’ve been on a number of Carol Newman’s “Arts Live and Local” shows which are usually a fifteen minute slot which just cover the nitty gritty of an upcoming book publication or a book launch at a local bookselling venue.  But this was to be a half hour taping session which sounded a bit more ominous somehow.

Dayle Olson, My Hostess and Interviewer Today

As it turned out, the time went by almost before I could collect my wits.  In fact, I’m not sure I managed to gather them in any sort of order that might make sense to listeners.  I guess we’ll find out when it airs next month.  Dayle is the consummate interviewer.  Not only does she ask penetrating questions, but she sits across the way, head-phoned, microphoned, and totally professional appearing, with eyes that dance with merriment and appreciation.  She made the whole experience such fun.

Dear Medora

We talked about my first (and favorite!) book, Dear Medora, and about my ghost books and, of course, about Mrs. Crouch, the resident ghost in my house.  I told about my ongoing series, “Saints or Sinners? Characters of Pacific County” now running weekly in the Chinook Observer and I even a recently published one, “Klondike Kate” for the ‘listening audience.”  Plus, Dayle kindly gave me time to put in a plug for the History Forum which will begin in September at the Oysterville Schoolhouse — for all those interested in local history and who might have stories of their own to tell!

In retrospect, of course, I have no idea whether I stuck with whatever point I wanted to make or even satisfactorily answered Dayle’s questions.  I found myself just rattling on — a garrulous old woman enjoying herself immensely.  Thanks, Dayle, for a fun half hour!  It went by all too fast!

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Ink

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

(Please Share This With Your Friends Who Might Like To Know!)

Somehow this blog title sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery by “Carolyn Keene”… but, in reality, it’s a here-and-now lament about two articles that were to be in today’s Chinook Observer.  But weren’t.  Both submitted by me.  Both agreed upon by the editor beforehand.  Both missing.

Joel Underwood, Guitarist, Singer, Storyteller, Historian

Well… I do understand the news business.  I wasn’t a journalism major for nothing.  And I know how space is limited, breaking news often takes precedence and, in general, sh** happens.  Still, I’m upset on behalf of those who were hoping for those stories — hoping that the articles would make the paper “in time.”

First was a reminder about this Sunday’s Music Vespers at the Oysterville Church.  What you need to know: it starts at 3:00 with an “Oysterville Moment” by me, presided over by Pastor Steve Kovach, and featuring the music of Joel Underwood who is here under the auspices of the Peninsula Arts Center in Long Beach.  Flowers will be provided by Todd Wiegardt, Suzanne Knutzen will play the old-fashioned pump organ to accompany the congregational hymn-singing, and Tucker Wachsmuth will oversee the passing of the collection baskets.  Donations go to sponsoring organization, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation for church maintenance. The event is free and open to the public.

Sydney with Ray Hicks, a Legend in his own time!

The second “missing” article was one of my “Saints or Sinners?” stories.  I had hoped that this one would be about a legendary Pacific County character who is having a hard time of it right now and I’d asked that it be printed “out of order.”  I guess that was a mistake resulting in no story at all.  Fingers crossed for next week!


Have you read today’s “Observer” yet?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Extra! Read all about it!

In answer to my own question, I have to say, “Only partly.” And those portions that I did read sent me through the gamut of emotions — disgust and distrust, anger and sadness, shame and anxiety.  Plus a good dollop or two of fear as I considered the implications  of  our young and totally inexperienced sheriff’s beliefs as outlined in the letter to the editor from Dave Sweblom of Raymond.  Scarey.

A bright spot was Ken Woodrich’s letter urging Ocean Park to incorporate.  I so hope that his words resonate with the leaders of what could be the largest municipality on the Peninsula.  Don’t you find it ludicrous, in this day and age, that we are still limited to three county commissioners just as we were in 1851 when Pacific County was formed and our population was 152, with 61 eligible voters?  Now,   our population is well over 23,000 and we still have three County Commissioners who (duh!) have far more responsibilities;  it will not be until our County population reaches 300,000 that we will be eligible for another commissioner.

The only answer for better oversight seems to be for a big chunk of the  population to remove themselves from the Commissioners’ jurisdiction by forming a municipality.  It would not only give autonomy to the new city (of Ocean Park) but, presumably, it would free up the rest of the County Commissioners a bit, giving them a chance to pay better attention to the needs of their constituents.

And then… the dreadful news of the Hospital Bond which failed by less than one-tenth of one percentage point.  I don’t know if the 60% passage requirement (the super majority) was mandated for that Bond, but I’m pretty sure it was not required for passage of “Ban the Boom.”  My understanding is that the super majority was an arbitrary requirement.  In the olden days, we simply called that “stacking the deck.”

Uncle Cecil’s Wheelbarrow by Earl Thollander

Well… I must get back to my reading.  If you get to Section B, do read my “Saints or Sinners” story and tell me if you think I should be less like “the talkative Espys” and more like Uncle  Cecil and Uncle Will.  Especially with regard to current times.


Gobsmacked doesn’t quite express it!

Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

Flintlock Pistol typical of available ordnance in 1789 when the 2nd amendment was written – capable of holding one shot at a time.

That Cate is taking a much-deserved break from her “Coast Chronicles” column in the Observer did not come as a total surprise today.  After writing every single week for fifteen (!) years, it seems that a little down time is more than her due, and even though I miss reading the local news that often doesn’t make the paper in other ways, I was fine with her absence.

What I was NOT fine with — in fact it took me three (count ’em 1-2-3) tries to read the article by Sen. Jeff Wilson — was the mish-mash published in Cate’s usual “spot.”   First I was stopped dead in my tracks (you might say) by the illustrations of the AR-15-style rifles that dominated the top of Page A-5.  I felt personally assaulted and insulted by the images.  Why does my hometown paper need to show these as if promoting them?  Plus I have NO (read: zero, zip, nada) idea what the caption was about — receiver extension? rear takedown pin? buttstock? — and could care even less.

After those two dead stops, I finally gave my attention to Senator Jeff Wilson’s words.  At first reading, I was simply confused.  Several more tries and I realized that the man is arguing against himself.  On the one hand he says that we have seen a “breakdown of our social order” and cites “homelessness,” “weakened abilities of law enforcement agencies” and the erasure of “our drug laws from the books.”

Yep.  I agree.  Society has changed.  But THEN he wants to go back to the letter of the law of our 2nd amendment and… what?  Apply that to a totally different society?  And that will fix everything?  I don’t know about you, but I cannot wrap my head around that concept.

Muskets, like flintlock pistols, were the typical firearms when the 2nd amendment was written. They, also, could hold a single round at a time, and a skilled shooter could hope to get off three or possibly four rounds in a minute of firing.

Or… maybe I can IF we swap out every current-day gun with a weapon manufactured before 1789 when the 2nd amendment was written.  Then maybe we’d have a more even playing field in this “changed” society of ours.

Egad, Cate!  I’m sure you can use a break after all these years, but for Heaven’s sake don’t make it too long.  My old brain can’t take much more boggling like today’s!

All the new that’s fit to print. And then some!

Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

I’m talking about the Wednesday, April 5, 2023 edition of the Chinook Observer.  Beginning on Page 1 with the report on our Sheriff’s Office dragging its feet in answering a 911 call (from the Pacific County Fire District No. 1, no less!).

I am reminded of a time, not so long ago, when my son asked me if living by myself made me nervous.  “Only insofar as getting assistance from our Sheriff’s Department goes; we never see them around here.” was my answer.  And here it is.  In black and white from a source that should have more clout than most of the rest of us.  Damned right I get nervous.

And also on Page 1 at the top of the page, a report that Pacific County’s population has had the highest growth in the state over the past year.  And at the bottom of the page, this headline “State House budget stingy with county.”

But wait.  Aren’t tax dollars allocated by the State to County projects supposed to reflect the most recent census figures — as in, the more growth we have in population, the more money will be directed our way by the State???  No doubt I have it screwed up.  For sure somebody does.

And galloping right on through — Cate Gable’s “April Fool’s Day thoughts.” Her article is one of the most powerful I’ve read on our continuing stupidity regarding gun control.   “Please review the steps we’ve taken to land here” she writes “– in which a school full of our most vulnerable and precious citizens is the taget for military assaults of the twisted-minded; in which the potential of our nation, its youth is what we are willing to sacrifice in order to buy, carry, hande se and miuse weapons meant for war.”  And she continues, “I would say this qualifies us as a nation of fools.”

Well, those are the “bad” and the “ugly” news reports.  I commend you to pages A-4 and B-1 where the really “good” news is happening.  Oh!  Wait!  It’s almost all by me or, even better, about me.  I loved Leisa Jennings report on the PCHS luncheon!  And I loved seeing Aunt Kate’s story at the bottom of Page B1.  Be sure you turn to B-4 and read the rest of it.  There’s a great punch line!





Kuzzin Kris and Cuzzin Ralph Weigh In

Monday, April 3rd, 2023

The Red House in Oysterville where Kris spent many a happy summer!

Why was I not surprised?  Interestingly (but not at all surprisingly), the only folks to weigh in on Saturday’s Daybook entry concerning the Shoalwater Bay Yacht Club were Kuzzin Kris and Cuzzin Ralph. Perhaps they, both being connected to the history of Oysterville through kinship and historical caring, are the only ones who really “got” my concerns.

Kris, bless her heart, expressed outrage: The Very Idea! Sheesh. I am so disappointed in the establishment that hacked together this slur on the original Oysterville Yacht Club! And she went on to suggest that the local paper publish something about this heresy and then said: other old time peninsulites will agree fully and completely.  As I have often told her, she leads a rich fantasy life!!!

R.H. Espy, Co-founder of Oysterville and brother to Cuzzin Ralph’s ancestor,  William “Kentuck” Espy

Ralph, on the other hand was rather matter-of-fact and forthright as usual:   I just have to put in my two cents even though I’m a complete goddamn outsider to the local politics. This seems to be part of almost “gentrification” of the Long Beach Peninsula area. First there was the exclusive garden club, with outrageous prices for the tours that precluded many of the long established local people.  Now this group of young whippersnapper outsiders trying to horn in on the traditions without giving proper credit to the past.   I think it is just a gimmick to push their restaurant/bakery trade but the sailing part will fall flat on its ass!

I truly do love my relatives!  And I do believe that blood is thicker than water.  And it is also patently clear (to me at least) that the history of the area matters most to those with deep roots here.

Sad.  But true.

YAY! Let’s hear it for Ilwaco!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

In my mother’s childhood — “Ilwaco as seen from Yellow Bluff, 1915.”

Now those are words I don’t get to say very often!  “Poor old Ilwaco” is a more likely commentary.  When I was a kid in the thirties and forties, Ilwaco was considered the only “real town” on the Peninsula.  It’s where you went to conduct business unless, of course, you were going into Portland for a few days.

But that was a long time ago.  By the time I began living here full time in the late 1970s, Ilwaco was already slip-slip-sliding away.  Since then, one-by-one, the old stalwarts have closed — Red’s Restaurant, Doupé Brothers, The Ilwaco Tribune — and although the Port has blossomed and re-blossomed, nothing seems to occur in “Greater Downtown Ilwaco.”

Red’s Restaurant – 1960s/1970s

But, according to today’s paper, it looks like the little old town is going to pull off something even better (to my way of thinking) than refurbishing the crumbling buildings and revitalizing the downtown core. Ilwaco is “this close” to finalizing the purchase of a watershed to preserve as a community forest and protect the city’s drinking water for posterity!  A Community Forest!!!  Wow!

I’m truly thankful I can’t count the times I’ve watched and worried and wondered about our forests.  How long will they last?  Are these skinny new growth “replacements” the best we can do?  What about the ecological benefits of the old growth forests — can they be replaced?  Surely this 1.62 million dollar deal will help.  And, according to Ilwaco’s mayor, it will make the town one of the few cities in the United States that owns “almost all the land that our water rights and our reservoir sits down on, including the forest all around (Bear Ridge) and up to the ridge itself.”

Cedar Grove, Long Island

I wish my mother were alive to see this happen.  She always lamented “the demise of Ilwaco” as she called it.  I know she would be pleased that a new possibility has now presented itself!  Hopefully for posterity.

Do I need to give up on the C.O. too?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Such A Tempting Posture

I’m beginning to think I want to be an ostrich when I grow up.  There is something to be said for sticking your head in the sand when the going gets tough.  Actually, I guess I did do that to some extent twenty some years ago when I retired and vowed never to watch the nightly news again.  I’ve pretty much kept that vow and as far as I can tell have saved myself a lot of angst.

My reasons were many-fold, but mostly I found that the national and international news was mega-depressing and that I really couldn’t make a difference no matter what I did.  I decided that I’d rather focus on our local community and try to do something that 1) I enjoy and 2) had at least the possibility of making a positive impact on a few folks beyond my immediate sphere of influence.

So, I put my energies toward researching our local history and writing about it and making it available, at least as much as I could, to others who might be interested.  That desire spawned seventeen or eighteen books, a number of newspaper and magazine articles and, best of all, the seeds of the CPHM’s Community Historian Project.  Yay!

A Role Model Perhaps???

But… when I read (with heavy heart) yesterday’s local paper — our esteemed Chinook Observer — I felt myself sinking into the doldrums once again.  Too many negatives — the Weyco Strike, county-backed housing at the expense of open space, new Covid deaths, clam dig cancelled, mortgage rates rising, new gimongous airport threatening farmland… and on it went.  And… what can I do about it?

Write a letter?  Ten letters?  Join a protest march?  Put a sign in my yard?  Sorry.  Been there done that.  Many times.  I think it’s time for the next generation — actually those who were born several generations after my peers and I were struggling to be heard. But wait.    Aren’t those the “future leaders” who were raised on Saturday morning cartoons?  And we wonder why we’re in trouble…

 Super Heroes to the Rescue?

Meanwhile… each Wednesday I’ll continue pulling my head out of this Peninsula sand dune we live on — just for a moment —  in case something positively positive and unexpected happens.  I don’t have high hopes.