Archive for the ‘Chinook Observer’ Category

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.


I probably didn’t read carefully enough…

Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Ocean Park Elementary School

…but I don’t think I saw the words “kids” or “learning” or even “students” or “education” when I read that front page article in today’s Observer, Citizen group endorses $90M+ school bond.  The entire report seemed to be about public dollars and interest rates and efficiency and what-will-happen-to-the-dear-old-Ocean-Park-School-building.  Oh, yes.  And the clincher words: “tsunami” and “safety.”  But only in terms of parental concern.

Ocean Park School, 1936

So I guess the Facility Advisory Committee bought into the idea that the tsunami would definitely arrive here during school hours.  And that having their kids in a centralized location would cause parents less angst when it arrived.  Hmmm.

I think back to the years  that I taught in Hayward, California within a few miles of the Hayward Earthquake Fault, an offshoot of the better-known San Andreas Fault.  We had earthquake drills once a month, as I recall, but in the sixteen years I taught there, I do not remember a single earthquake making an appointment and arriving during school hours.  There were earthquakes, of course — just when least expected and totally unplanned for.  Sorta what a “disaster” is all about.

And… just how short are our memories, anyway?  Ocean Park School was closed from September 1972 until September 1981 and the District’s youngest children, K-3, all went to Hilltop School in Ilwaco.  It wasn’t for the tsunami back then, but it was for cost savings.

By 1976, however, O.P. parents realized that their Kindergarten kids were going and coming on the school bus for more minutes a day than their half-day Kindergarten class was in session.  For the next several years,  Margaret Staudenraus taught two Kindergarten classes a day at Ocean Park School — the only “T&K (teacher-and-kids) Act” in the entire school building which, by then, had become a Community Center.  FINALLY!  Someone had thought about the kids.  Or at least some of them.

I wonder what it will take this time?  And don’t get me started on all the research that says small, neighborhood schools are the best learning environment for students, especially for young students.  When it comes to elementary education, folks, bigger is not better and $$$$ savings do not equal excellent learning environments. Truly.



Late Breaking News…

Saturday, February 6th, 2021

Gathering at the Pacific House, 1870 — not recorded in the news.

Pacific County’s first newspaper was established in Oysterville in 1883 — nineteen newsworthy years after Oysterville was founded by R.H. Espy and I.A. Clark.  A lot happened during those nineteen years —  the development of a thriving oyster trade with San Francisco, the establishment of the County Seat here in 1855, and the building of the first school in 1860, just for starters.  But without a newspaper, the recorded life and times of Oysterville from 1854 to 1883 is spotty at best.  What we know of those important years are from oral histories, from surviving letters, or by reading between the lines of legal documents — not from the headlines and articles and advertisements of the town newspaper.

Although I’ve never been able to find out his reasons, it was Lewis Alfred Loomis who brought editor Alf Bowen to Oysterville.  Maybe it was a matter of happenstance or perhaps Loomis felt that a newspaper could help him as he developed his transportation empire.  In any event, Bowen’s Pacific Journal  was short-lived.  He moved his news operation to Nahcotta in 1889,  about the time the first train pulled in there, and finally relocated to Ilwaco, eventually merging with the North Beach Tribune.  Unfortunately, existing copies from the Journal’s Oysterville years are few and far between.

Building the first Pacific County Courthouse in 1875 didn’t make the news, either.

However, two years after his arrival in Oysterville, Bowen published a promotional pamphlet entitled “A Description of Pacific County, Washington Territory, and Its Resources.”  The booklet was intended as a promotional piece for visitors or other “outsiders” who might be interested in settling here.  In the booklet were descriptions of our healthy climate, of industries and “school privileges,” of churches and taxation and typical wages.  (Loggers, from $50 to $80 a month; mill hands, $25 to $50; oystering and fishing, $40 to $50; ranching, $25 to $30 and always including board.)

Thinking about how much we don’t know about the early years of settlement here causes me to reflect upon how blessed we are to still have a functioning weekly paper here on the Peninsula — especially in this day and age when so many newspapers, large as well as small, can no longer stay afloat.  For me, anyway, there is great comfort in being able to read local news and actually hold it in my hands, so to speak.  I wonder if 140 years hence, hard copies of the Chinook Observer will be as scarce as those first issues of the Pacific Journal are today.  I wonder where else our descendants will be able to find out about our life and times in this little off-the-grid byway.  Hard to imagine…

Matt has outdone himself once again!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

In today’s Chinook Observer – 8/12/20

Often on Wednesday mornings early  — right up there with pouring my first cup of coffee — I take a quick look at the Chinook Observer online.  I’m much too impatient to wait until the post office opens to get my hard copy of the local news, especially if I’m hoping that an article of mine might appear.

Today I was rewarded with a look at my story about Sealand.  It’s the fifth in my “Once upon a time in Pacific County” series and I think I like it the best, so far.  And it doesn’t hurt at all that Editor Matt Winters did an absolutely stellar job on the layout!  I really can’t wait to see the paper up-close-and-personal to enjoy the fruits of my (and his) labor in person!

Matt’s “Annual Selfie” – from his Facebook page

I wrote Matt a few words of thanks for the attention he paid to my words and pictures, but it occurs to me that we seldom thank him and his staff enough.  Especially during this “sheltering time,”  they have all been hard at it, bringing us the news — good, but also bad — and often getting more criticism than appreciation for their efforts.

Even though I still love to hold the real deal in my hands (the roar of the printer’s ink, the smell of the news), I have to say I am depending more and more on late-breaking online news from the Observer to know what’s happening in the community.  I definitely feel out of most loops these days and I so appreciate the  Observer taking up the slack.

In today’s Chinook Observer – 8/12/20

I can’t even imagine how much extra work it is for all of the staff, but especially for Editor Matt.  So, just in case you might think my “thank you” of today was just for the Sealand article, Matt, please consider it in its broadest context.  You are much appreciated, especially from this neck of the woods!