Making Up The News

Jul 19, 2012 | 2 comments

What first caught my eye in the new Chinook Observer’s 2012 Visitor’s Guide was a long-ago picture of Jazz and Oysters and the accompanying text that said it would be held in Oysterville this August.  Obviously written by Aliens.  J&O has not been held in Oysterville since 2010, much to our distress.  Would that the information in the paper were true… but it’s not.

My attention thus arrested, I read the rest of the article with the enchanting-if-overused title:  “Historic and lovely Oysterville is a ‘Shangri-La’ on the bay.’  I was treated to an entirely new history of Oysterville.

According to the paper (and, we all know what happens to “facts” once they are in print), Oysterville was first settled thirteen years earlier than all the first-hand accounts and history books have told us for the past 158 years.  Plus, according to this confused account, it was settled not by Espy and Clark but by John Douglas..  And by 1854 (when Espy and Clark built the first house in the area according to their own accounts), there was already a settlement of several hundred people here.  And by 1854, says the article, there were 800 people here. WOW!

Where does this stuff come from, anyway?  I’m being literal here.  Where does this information come from???  I called the editor to find out exactly that.  I had to leave a message and, admittedly, I was irate to the point of incoherence – probably said things about responsibility and ethics in journalism and what were they thinking.  Mostly, I wanted to know the source of this new history.  My call has yet to be returned.

Perhaps my ‘favorite’ part of the article (is it possible to have a favorite part of something that you really hate?) is this paragraph:

Old for a West Coast town, Oysterville is brand new in geographic terms.  Oysterville could be the only place in the United States that has always had human occupants. Native American people probably settled Oysterville as soon as it was created.  Chinook peoples came to the area that is Oysterville at seasonal intervals for untold centuries to harvest its bountiful oyster beds.

I’ve read and re-read these words and still cannot understand what they mean.  Who were those earliest human occupants?  Apparently not the Chinooks who “settled Oysterville as soon as it was created.”  Huh?

Meanwhile… a dedicated group of local historians have been working for more than a year to develop a Community History Program.  Its purpose will be to explore Pacific County history through field trips, visits with experts and opportunities to explore various history archives.  The goal is to provide certification to those interested in perpetuating our local history.

I do hope that whoever wrote that “Shangri-La” article takes the course – for the part on verifying sources and the ethics of documentation, if nothing else.  And, just in case there is still a question …for the second year in a row, J&O will  again be at Wilson’s Field in Ocean Park.  I checked.


  1. Betsy

    Well we always like to say that “History is made fresh daily” but this is taking it a little too far! The Community Historian Project is coming at just the right time.

  2. Patricia

    The source must have been Rush Limbaugh…he’s really good at making up history/current events!


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