Old News and Fake History

Jun 25, 2019 | 1 comment

Bob Duke’s Photograph of Oysterville — page 16, “Discovery Coast 2019-2020”

When our friends Susan and Randal came back from a foray to Jack’s Country Store yesterday, they were full of chuckles and questions.  Susan was carrying a copy of Discovery Coast 2019-2020, the publication put out each year about this time by the Chinook Observer.  It is geared for the tourist crowd.

“Look at this!” they said!  “Did you know that Oysterville is a ghost town?”  And they pointed to the headline, “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town.”

Superior Publishing Company, 1970

As a matter of fact, I did know that.  It has been a “ghost town” for some time now, at least by some definitions.  In 1970 when Washington Ghost Towns by Lambert Florin was published by The Superior Publishing Company of Seattle, pages 59 to 63 were devoted to “The Town That Oysters Built, Oysterville, Wash.”  It was among the 33 towns of Washington listed in the table of contents, and the book, itself, was part of the “Western Ghost Town Series.”

The publisher (or author) apparently felt compelled to explain how a town had qualified to be a part of this book.  On the page before the first entry (“Altoona, Washington”) they say:  One of several dictionary definitions of “ghost” is “a shadowy semblance of its former self.”  We have elected to prefer this somewhat ambiguous phrase  because it accurately describes many towns on the borderline of being dead or alive…  Works for me.

Randal Bays, Sunday at Vespers

So, I didn’t really share Randal and Susan’s amazement/amusement over the headline.  My eye was drawn, instead to Bob Duke’s absolutely stunning drone’s-eye-view of the village — or at least most of it.  Wow!  Whether or not you agree that Oysterville is a ghost town, the photo puts into full-color perspective its size and isolation relative to the rest of the Peninsula.

But, as my eye scanned the printed matter below the photograph, my blood pressure began to rise appreciably.  “Who,” I facebooked to Bob, “wrote the article?”  He didn’t know but Editor Matt Winters soon weighed in.  “Patrick Webb refreshed all the content this year, including Oysterville.”

Susan Waters, PhD – at Vespers Sunday, June 23rd

Wow!  I don’t know how that works.  The “Oysterville” article is largely about its history.  So… how do you “refresh” history, anyway?  Randal read it and declared it “Fake News.”  But I don’t think news and history equate any more than research and fact-checking do.  Mostly, I am appalled that with the plethora of historic information available about Oysterville, Mr. Webb apparently didn’t do a bit of homework.

On the plus side… there are fourteen paragraphs in the article and each one contains at least one whopper.  To me that translates into fourteen days of blogs in an attempt to correct the record.  Or not…  I’m trying to decide if anyone besides me gives a rip.  (Can you tell that my blood pressure is rising again?)

1 Comment

  1. Bruce jones

    Rip on cousin! I’m ready to read some good rips. It would be nice if Mr. Webb could read them too — he might become interested in further research — elucidating!


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