Gone are the days…

Nov 30, 2011 | 5 comments

Not A Pretty Picture

     Yesterday, my cousins and I walked ‘the cannery loop’ here in Oysterville and stopped in to take a look at Oysterville Sea Farms.  Despite the bright morning sun streaming through the windows, it was a cold, disheartening scene.
     The shelves that only months ago had been bursting with all manner of inviting local products were empty, empty, and empty again.  The only items for sale – oysters, clams, crabs – seemed to cower in the corner, hoping to be rescued from such a depressing environment.
     As I read the signs posted here and there explaining that items have been taken off the shelves due to a Pacific County ‘cease and desist’ order, I couldn’t help but think of how far down the Road of Bureaucracy we have strayed.
     The spirit of community, of helping one’s neighbors, of filling a niche, are no longer acceptable reasons for having a business, even here in our tiny community – a sad commentary on the impersonal, lock-step, global consumerism that our society seems hell-bent to force us into.  It is laughable that those who think Dan’s business will lead us to the ‘slippery slope’ of Wallmarts-on-the-Bay are actually closing down the only legitimate answer to the Big Box Stores – a viable, individually owned retail business that sells local products.
     That, coupled with the threat that our Post Office (and thus, no doubt, the Oysterville Store) may soon be closed, put me in mind of Oysterville’s past mercantile operations.  I.A. Clark, co-founder of Oysterville, opened the first store in town shortly after he and my great-grandfather arrived in 1854.  Clark (like Levi in the gold country of California) saw that supplying the workers with the things they needed would provide him with a steady income – perhaps a better income than a direct involvement with the oysters out on the tideflats.
     Some years later, in the 1880s, J. A. Morehead opened his general merchandise store in Oysterville.  Morehead had been a stagecoach driver for four years and when he was about to marry Lizzie Brown he asked his boss, Lewis Alfred Loomis, for a loan to set him up in business.  Morehead eventually moved his store to Nahcotta, a branch was opened in Ocean Park, and its ‘descendant’ is still operating as Jack’s Country Store.
     In the early 1900s, the West Coast Oyster Company opened a store where their employees could purchase general merchandise and ‘put it on the books’ until harvest time.  The building, which no longer exists, was located just south of the Red Cottage and from 1914 to 1918, during a bubble in Oysterville’s school population, it served as the town’s primary-aged students.
     During those years, when my mother and her siblings were growing up here, the local store was owned by Sam and Tom Andrews and was located on the west side of Territory Road just across from Merchant Street.  It was also the location of the Post Office and, some years later,  when the Andrews’ niece, Minnie, became postmistress, the entire operation was moved to its present location at the foot of Davis Hill.
     How much simpler it was back then!  I doubt if the County knew or cared when stores opened, moved locations, changed their focus.  If a business worked for the community’s good, it thrived.  As simple as that…

5 Comments

  1. Lee LaFollette

    Well said Sydney. And, yes indeed, it tis a damned shame that those super smart Einstein’s in power cannot see the value in what Dan was developing or in the number of people he was keeping employed during these tough times. Mirror Mirror on the Wall, who’s the brightest Pacific County enforcer of them all? Seems they have lots of fight but how do they figure we can recharge this area and keep small business thriving or do they care? Perhaps this area needs stronger leadership! Find balance! It’s been a tumultuous year in the business world. Let’s bring back those years of consistency when a small business could yield many rewards. Dan needs to keep his strength and remain fearless and confident while the county enforces their iron will upon his greatness…hang in there Dan!!! Long live the campaign to save the county from the politicians. America’s got talent and it lives in Dan Driscoll. We cannot fault him for seeking the profit potential in every single customer…let’s hope that what is happening in Oysterville is not contagious on the Long Beach Peninsula.

    Reply
  2. Cousin Ralph

    Cousin Sydney, I well remember myself taking the “Cannery Loop” on a morning walk just about a year ago when visiting. I stopped by the cannery & bought some Habanero smoked salmon, which was very good. I think the powers that be in Pacific County are just too big for their britches and are acting like they are King County—there are way too many regulations for the good of everyone.A review at Yelp by Jim C. of Portland gives a rather off-color opinion of the Pacific County government, which I agree with.

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  3. Anne Kepner

    Thank you, Sydney, for your continued community support.

    Reply
  4. Linda J

    Dan, what can we (supporters) do to help?

    Reply
  5. Jean Stamper

    Sydney, What a sad picture and what a change from the bustling place it was just last summer. I hope our continued support will bring about the changes needed to get Dan back in business. Thanks for your timely reports.

    Reply

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