My Five Choices

Jul 28, 2010 | 2 comments

Five Favorites

     I always enjoy reading “Take 5” which occasionally runs on the inside cover of Coast Magazine.  A few months back it was Editor Kathleen Strecker’s Five All-Time Favorite TV Shows.  This week it was Cate Gable’s Five Top Magazine Picks.  Whatever the topic, it makes me examine what my own top five might be.  And, if I were to choose a topic, what would that be?   Recently, when someone asked me to recommend a history of the area, I flashed on “Take 5” and thought, “That’s it!  That’s what my top five choices would be!”  Since I’m not likely to get that opportunity, I’ve decided to write them here:

  1. The Journals of the Lewis & Clark Expedition, Volume 6, November 2, 1805-March 22, 1806 edited by Gary E. Moulton.  This volume deals with the time period of the expedition’s journey from the Cascades of the Columbia through their winter at Fort Clatsop – the part of the journey most germane to us.  Moulton’s edition not only presents the full text of the journals, but is well annotated giving added insight and understanding to the original works.
  2. The Northwest Coast or Three Years’ Residence in Washington Territory by James G. Swan.  This remarkable volume is a first-hand account of the author’s 1852-1855 stay on Shoalwater (now Willapa) Bay when only a few dozen white setters lived among the Indians in the midst of a yet untamed wilderness.  His observations of the area and of its indigenous peoples provide the perfect yardstick against which we can measure our ‘progress’ of the last hundred and fifty years.
  3. Coast Country: A History of Southwest Washington by Lucile McDonald. Written in a straightforward, almost chatty style, this book gives a behind-the-scenes look at the peninsula of the mid-twentieth century and of its history as seen through the eyes of local residents from whom the author drew much of her material.  Sometimes the facts are a little skewed, but McDonald’s enthusiasm makes for delightful reading and the photographs will remind many readers of barely remembered peninsula landmarks.
  4. Oysterville: Road’s to Grandpa’s Village by Willard R. Espy.  Published shortly after Alex Haley’s 1976 blockbuster, Espy’s book has been hailed “the white man’s Roots.”  It is the culmination of his thirty years research into the Espy and Richardson family genealogies, but it is the author’s beautifully interweaving of anecdotes and stories about the early Shoalwater Bay region that make it a must for anyone interested in the history of our area.
  5. The Nickel Plated Beauty by Patricia Beatty.  Set in Ocean Park, Washington Territory in 1886, this is the story of the seven Kimball youngsters and their struggles to earn (secretly) $27 for a new stove for their mother.  This is children’s historical fiction at its best.  I read it to my classes each of the 23 years I taught in the Ocean Beach School District.  I still feel it’s a must for anyone growing up here at the beach.  Or for anyone else!

P.S. There are two other books, each with a specific focus that also should be on the list for anyone seriously interested in our history:  The Railroad That Ran by the Tide by Raymond J. Feagans and Pacific Graveyard by James A. Gibbs.


  1. MaryBeth Kelly

    My two favorites in your group are the Espy book and the McDonald book. The only one I am not familiar with is the Beatty book. I see I could get it from Amazon for a mere hundred dollars. There are some really good reviews of the book there also. It also mentions a couple others of her ocean books.

  2. Corinn Campbell

    You can get the Beatty book at Barnes & Noble for as little as $1.99. I just added it to my Peninsula book collection. Thanks for the suggestion Sydney.


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