Confessions of a Wimpy Weather Watcher

Dec 10, 2013 | 1 comment

Train at Nahcotta August 1913

Train at Nahcotta, August 1913

 Friday, October 16, 1914
My dear Medora,
We were all ready to leave this morning, all dressed and horse harnessed.  But the storm grew worse every minute until there was such a gale blowing that it was worse than foolish to start alone with the babies.  One suit case is reposing at Nahcotta.  I shall not set a day, but will leave at the first possible moment, telegraphing you from Astoria.
There is no news…                                                     Mother

Whenever weather conditions are less than ideal and we are getting ready to make the trek to Portland (as we are this morning), I think of how difficult such a trip was in my grandmother’s day.  Instead of taking two-and-a-half or three hours, it was either overnight by boat or all day on the train.  There were no roads from Oysterville, and even if there were, the family didn’t have a car until the mid-twenties.

The trip involved horse-and-buggy to Nahcotta, train to Ilwaco (later, Megler), a launch across to Astoria where one caught either the train or a boat to Portland.  If it was the train, scheduling usually involved staying overnight at the Astoria Hotel.  I can’t imagine such a trip with “the babies” who, in September 1914, were Edwin aged 5, Willard aged 3, and my mother aged 2.

Columbia River teamer T.J. Potter 1888-19i21 Portland, Oreg. to Ilwaco Washington

T. J. Potter, Columbia River Steamer 1888-1921

Like for us, the reason for such trips usually involved seeing the doctor, doing some shopping, and visiting the relatives.  Unlike our trips to Portland which are usually a ‘there and back in a day’ expedition, my grandmother’s Portland trips often involved a week or even a two-week stay.

I think that cancelling a trip due to the weather was totally sensible, with or without “the babies” and I would stay home this morning in a heartbeat if it weren’t for a few differences from my grandmother’s situation beyond the obvious time/transportation improvements.  For one thing, my grandmother never had to wait six weeks for a scheduled CT scan.  In fact, any kind of doctor’s appointment was rare.  She arrived in the city, she called the office to see if the doctor was ‘in,’ and then she proceeded to the waiting room and waited.

When it came to shopping, she went to Meier and Frank’s.  Period.  They knew her and her credit was good there.  Besides, she could invariably find all the things on her list in their recently built ten-story building (two basements and two elevators!) – the tallest store in the Pacific Northwest and Portland’s only ‘skyscraper.’


Meier and Frank

My list isn’t very extensive – I do most of my shopping right here on the Peninsula, as did my grandmother – but,  even so, I will need to go to several different stores to find what I want.  Part of it, no doubt, is that we have more choices these days and I’m the first to admit that I’m particular.  (Only Trader Joe’s has exactly the color/size/dripless variety of candles I want and only during the Christmas holiday season.)

So, I convince myself that we have no choice.  We must leave in time for that morning appointment, weather or no weather.  I’ve looked at the ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) site, – what would my grandmother have thought of those video cams showing the real-time road conditions? – we have our studded tires on the car, and we’ve packed food, water and flashlight as per the travel advisories.  Even so… I’ll be glad to get home later today; I hope it’s before dark.

1 Comment

  1. Nancy

    Ah, the candles…were the ones I got at our local Big John’s Super similar to the ones T.J.s carries? Our local Trader does not offer the green ones any more. Lest we not forget the meaning of light during the season we are now enjoying. Solstice to occur in not too many days. And, to comment on CHOICES. To shop or not to shop. To decorate or not. If so, lavish or minimal. When I read (from your posts) about your grandmother and try to image her living in the village, I can easily “vision up” the horse and buggy, the bundled up folks, their breath in the icy air. What a legacy you have received. I am boohooing a bit, because I did not know any ancestors, all unknown or deceased by the time I arrived. I appreciate you sharing your family with your readers. I believe in adoption and do have an active imagination!


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