Posts Tagged ‘Chinook Observer’

YAY! Let’s hear it for Ilwaco!

Wednesday, October 12th, 2022

In my mother’s childhood — “Ilwaco as seen from Yellow Bluff, 1915.”

Now those are words I don’t get to say very often!  “Poor old Ilwaco” is a more likely commentary.  When I was a kid in the thirties and forties, Ilwaco was considered the only “real town” on the Peninsula.  It’s where you went to conduct business unless, of course, you were going into Portland for a few days.

But that was a long time ago.  By the time I began living here full time in the late 1970s, Ilwaco was already slip-slip-sliding away.  Since then, one-by-one, the old stalwarts have closed — Red’s Restaurant, Doupé Brothers, The Ilwaco Tribune — and although the Port has blossomed and re-blossomed, nothing seems to occur in “Greater Downtown Ilwaco.”

Red’s Restaurant – 1960s/1970s

But, according to today’s paper, it looks like the little old town is going to pull off something even better (to my way of thinking) than refurbishing the crumbling buildings and revitalizing the downtown core. Ilwaco is “this close” to finalizing the purchase of a watershed to preserve as a community forest and protect the city’s drinking water for posterity!  A Community Forest!!!  Wow!

I’m truly thankful I can’t count the times I’ve watched and worried and wondered about our forests.  How long will they last?  Are these skinny new growth “replacements” the best we can do?  What about the ecological benefits of the old growth forests — can they be replaced?  Surely this 1.62 million dollar deal will help.  And, according to Ilwaco’s mayor, it will make the town one of the few cities in the United States that owns “almost all the land that our water rights and our reservoir sits down on, including the forest all around (Bear Ridge) and up to the ridge itself.”

Cedar Grove, Long Island

I wish my mother were alive to see this happen.  She always lamented “the demise of Ilwaco” as she called it.  I know she would be pleased that a new possibility has now presented itself!  Hopefully for posterity.

Do I need to give up on the C.O. too?

Thursday, September 22nd, 2022

Such A Tempting Posture

I’m beginning to think I want to be an ostrich when I grow up.  There is something to be said for sticking your head in the sand when the going gets tough.  Actually, I guess I did do that to some extent twenty some years ago when I retired and vowed never to watch the nightly news again.  I’ve pretty much kept that vow and as far as I can tell have saved myself a lot of angst.

My reasons were many-fold, but mostly I found that the national and international news was mega-depressing and that I really couldn’t make a difference no matter what I did.  I decided that I’d rather focus on our local community and try to do something that 1) I enjoy and 2) had at least the possibility of making a positive impact on a few folks beyond my immediate sphere of influence.

So, I put my energies toward researching our local history and writing about it and making it available, at least as much as I could, to others who might be interested.  That desire spawned seventeen or eighteen books, a number of newspaper and magazine articles and, best of all, the seeds of the CPHM’s Community Historian Project.  Yay!

A Role Model Perhaps???

But… when I read (with heavy heart) yesterday’s local paper — our esteemed Chinook Observer — I felt myself sinking into the doldrums once again.  Too many negatives — the Weyco Strike, county-backed housing at the expense of open space, new Covid deaths, clam dig cancelled, mortgage rates rising, new gimongous airport threatening farmland… and on it went.  And… what can I do about it?

Write a letter?  Ten letters?  Join a protest march?  Put a sign in my yard?  Sorry.  Been there done that.  Many times.  I think it’s time for the next generation — actually those who were born several generations after my peers and I were struggling to be heard. But wait.    Aren’t those the “future leaders” who were raised on Saturday morning cartoons?  And we wonder why we’re in trouble…

 Super Heroes to the Rescue?

Meanwhile… each Wednesday I’ll continue pulling my head out of this Peninsula sand dune we live on — just for a moment —  in case something positively positive and unexpected happens.  I don’t have high hopes.


And there was Mario, looking back at me!

Monday, August 1st, 2022

It took just a few seconds before I did a double take!  Barbara Bate had handed me a flyer about a Community Awareness Dinner but it wasn’t until I took note of the face and saw the words “Featuring speaker Mario Rodriguez” that I yelled, “Hooray!”

Well, probably not out loud.  We were at the Oysterville Church waiting for Vespers to begin yesterday when the information registered!  On August 16th (a Tuesday) after a free (!) dinner at the Senior Center, Mario is going to talk about “Holding Hope through Difficult Times.”  I can’t imagine anyone  more qualified to speak on that topic!

Mario — a man I had first met via telephone back in 2017 when he was in prison — arrested by ICE right in the parking lot of the Long Beach Post Office.
Mario —  whose voice came over the phone from the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma directly to Emanuel Hospital in Portland where I was visiting my very ill husband..
Mario — for twelve years a bilingual educator at Ilwaco High School. “I worked with families, too.  I visited homes, helping wherever I could.  Sometimes I met family members at the clinic to help translate during medical appointments.  Whatever was needed.”
Mario — one of the many immigrants from our Peninsula who I featured in my “Stories From the Heart” for the Chinook Observer — a series later nominated for the Pulitzer and that, still later, spawned national and international TV coverage and a New York Times Magazine article.

From McKenzie Funk’s 2019 NYT Magazine article

Since his release from prison a few months later,  I’ve visited with Mario now and then.  He’s working with an attorney, has been to court (a time or two I think), has continued to work in our community — though not, as far as I know in the schools. And, apparently, he still holds hope that he can become a citizen here in this country where he may be able to fulfill his wish — to get back into education so he can help…

The dinner is sponsored by Peace of Mind Pacific County in cooperation with Pacific County Immigrant Support, Pacific County Voicrss Uniting, and Peninsula Poverty Response.  I emailed for my reservation to the dinner for, although it is free, space is limited.  Hope to see you there, too!

But for the grace of God…

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

An Internet Photo

As I read the front page news this morning, I was selfishly SO glad that I am long retired and not having to work during these treacherous times. I am pretty much out of the school loop — most of my teaching colleagues have now retired and I don’t have any close connections who are teaching or being taught.  So I’m unsure whether or not there are “choices” — as in can a teacher opt out of the classroom and into a virtual learning situation this school year in OBSD?

“Rod Run, Hilltop cases fuel peninsula Covid concerns” said the headline.  Somehow, the Rod Run didn’t surprise me — it seemed an “accident” waiting to happen, and while Nyel and I enjoyed sitting out in front of the house Sunday afternoon watching the cars parade by, we weren’t one bit tempted to go to Wilson’s Field to get up-close-and-personal this year.  But Hilltop!  OMG!  Educators and students are there by mandate I think.  I don’t believe there is a choice.  I SO wish readers who are better informed than I would weigh in.

An Internet Photo

On Monday, OBSD Superintendent Amy Huntley confirmed that two Hilltop individuals have tested positive for the virus. While the positive cases would typically result in just a handful of students being sent home, Huntley said the circumstances of this situation meant that about two-thirds of the 7th grade class were close contacts of the infected individuals.

“Out of an excess of caution, and to provide the best instruction possible, we switched the 7th grade to remote learning the rest of the week,” Huntley said in an email. Vaccinated students and others who were not designated as close contacts do not need to quarantine or get tested, and can continue with their normal activities, she added.

“An EXCESS of caution”?????  My mind boggles.

An Internet Photo

Meanwhile, according to Pacific County Health Director Katie Lindstrom, just a few weeks into the school year there have been Covid related cases in just about every school in the county.  Selfishly. I’m glad I no longer depend upon a paycheck from OBSD — a paycheck that apparently would depend upon my putting myself (and possibly others) in danger every day.  My heart goes out to all of those who are caught up in this mess.

Would that our tax dollars earmarked for “education” could be redistributed for a while so that home supervision could be provided for students of working parents.  So that we could continue virtual learning.  So that we could buy time for finding ways for kids to socialize without being put at risk.  So that our front page headlines weren’t about the most precious and vulnerable of our population.

Reading The Shelves

Wednesday, March 31st, 2021

The Willapa Country — 4th from rt.

Nyel is good at it.  I’m not.  It probably hearkens back to the years that he worked in the library at the University of Washington — in the sixties when he was working on his undergraduate degree.  Reading the shelves is a skill necessary to library and bookstore workers — especially when there are “open stacks” where patrons and customers can browse at will.  No matter how careful folks are, there is plenty of room for a mis-shelved book and you know the old library expression — a misplaced book is a lost book.

In our personal, four-generational library , the story is  the same.  Or worse.  For one thing, we don’t have a card catalog or inventory of the books in this house.  I don’t even have an idea of how many there are.  Three thousand?  Four thousand?  More?  Of the 12 (or 14, depending upon how you count) rooms in the house, 6 contain serious book shelves and 3 others have books tucked in the nooks and crannies.  When I’m looking for a specific title or author, I call on Nyel.  Even from his wheelchair, he can manage far better than I.

East Room- SW Corner

But just happening upon a book is another matter. As in, I didn’t know I was looking for The Willapa Country: History Report until I ran cross it this very morning on a shelf in our East Room.  It looks to be brand new, never opened.  Yet it was published by the Raymond Herald & Advertiser, Raymond, Wa in 1965!  Has it been in this house all those years?  Why did it just hop out at me now?

I’m so happy to make its acquaintance, though, despite the timing.  I could have used it bigtime when researching the article I turned in to the Observer  just a few days ago — the second one in my “Doctoring in Early Pacific County” series.  In this compact little book is fantastic historic information about the medical communities in the Raymond Valley, Tokeland, and Brooklyn areas — places for which even minimal information was hard to come by.

I was relieved, however, to find (after a quick perusal) that the information I did come up with was accurate and representational.  Yay!  But you can bet that the fabulous facts, figures, and statistics about all manner of North County history contained in this tidy little book, edited by Virginia “Ginny” Olsen (1913-1981) will show up in future articles.  It is a treasure trove and, even more interestingly, was updated and corrected  by Virginia, herself, ten years after it was published.  Those corrections were published in the Spring 1981 issue of the Sou’wester magazine.  I can scarcely believe that the original book has been right on our bookshelves all this time!

King Tide News from Down Under

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

The Briscoe Residence, Oysterville c. 1890

Yesterday I received a note from my Australian friend Rosemary Peeler.  I think of her as a blog/community historian connection.  We actually “met” on the internet through some blogs I had written about Judge Briscoe and Michael Lemeshko’s subsequent Briscoe research.  The Judge was one of Rosemary’s ancestors.

She is a serious genealogist and came all the way to Oysterville from her home in Melbourne to meet Michael and me and to see where Briscoe and his family hung out beginning in the 1860s.  Actually, she came visiting twice during that summer of 2018 when she was in the States.  We’ve been friends ever since.

Her note yesterday included an attachment — an article dated Saturday, April 20, 1935, in the Northern Champion, which was a bi-weekly newspaper published from 1912  to 1961  in Taree, New South Wales.  The clipping was headlined “King Tide – Why He Rolls In.”  In her accompanying note, Rosemary  said she had remembered reading something about King Tides long ago.  She pointed out that information in my recent blog (about the term “King Tide” perhaps being coined  in connection with Climate Change) was probably not true.  And here was an article to prove her point!  It began:

Michael Lemeshko’s Book about Briscoe

The annual appearance of he King Tide recently was noted by mariners and fishermen, but probably few of us in the ?? atmosphere of clerical routine took the trouble to mark the occurrence…

The report went on to mention that King Tides usually happen in January, explained the influence of the moon at perigee, and told how favorable winds enhance the extra high tide.  Nowhere was “climate change” mentioned.

Wow!  I don’t know what impresses me more — that I have a friend in Australia who reads my blog or that she remembered reading of King tides long ago and was able to come up with documentation to correct my mis-information.  Thank you, Rosemary!

And speaking of our most recent King Tide  — I noticed in our own Chinook Observer that he made quite a splash out at Cape De last week.  However, for the record, he hardly set foot in Oysterville at all.  He didn’t even bother to come up the lane or to rest by Willard’s bench in the meadow like he did the time before.  Perhaps those “favorable winds” were the missing element on this side of the Peninsula.




Matt has outdone himself once again!

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

In today’s Chinook Observer – 8/12/20

Often on Wednesday mornings early  — right up there with pouring my first cup of coffee — I take a quick look at the Chinook Observer online.  I’m much too impatient to wait until the post office opens to get my hard copy of the local news, especially if I’m hoping that an article of mine might appear.

Today I was rewarded with a look at my story about Sealand.  It’s the fifth in my “Once upon a time in Pacific County” series and I think I like it the best, so far.  And it doesn’t hurt at all that Editor Matt Winters did an absolutely stellar job on the layout!  I really can’t wait to see the paper up-close-and-personal to enjoy the fruits of my (and his) labor in person!

Matt’s “Annual Selfie” – from his Facebook page

I wrote Matt a few words of thanks for the attention he paid to my words and pictures, but it occurs to me that we seldom thank him and his staff enough.  Especially during this “sheltering time,”  they have all been hard at it, bringing us the news — good, but also bad — and often getting more criticism than appreciation for their efforts.

Even though I still love to hold the real deal in my hands (the roar of the printer’s ink, the smell of the news), I have to say I am depending more and more on late-breaking online news from the Observer to know what’s happening in the community.  I definitely feel out of most loops these days and I so appreciate the  Observer taking up the slack.

In today’s Chinook Observer – 8/12/20

I can’t even imagine how much extra work it is for all of the staff, but especially for Editor Matt.  So, just in case you might think my “thank you” of today was just for the Sealand article, Matt, please consider it in its broadest context.  You are much appreciated, especially from this neck of the woods!

Gather ’round! It’s the visiting season!

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Friday Night in November 2019

Last night it was SRO at our usual Friday gathering.  We ran out of chairs so we spilled over from library to living room.  Hal sat on the floor and I meant to see how he’d manage to get up — but I forgot.  I can still do it, but it’s not a pretty picture — not popping up like toast as it was in the days before I got old and creaky,

Sue, Carol, Sandra — All A-Tangle?

The fiber arts ladies (or so I call the knitters and quilters) sat on the couch and played cats cradle.  Not really, but that’s what it looked like.  I think they were helping Sandra with a problem.  It took a while but they got it solved.

Tucker actually brought a hand truck loaded with his show-and-tell for the evening — some of his sign collection which included  few old Oysterville signs, a discarded tsunami sign,  and a yellow stop sign.  Yes, yellow.  Only a few of us remembered them. Ahem!  From The Manual of Traffic Signs on

The first STOP sign appeared in 1915 in Detroit, Michigan. There were a variety of colors used for STOP signs until the late 1920s, when the background color was standardized on yellow for maximum day and night visibility. Remember that this was a number of years before the invention of glass-bead retroreflectorization for sign faces, so a red sign looked very dark at night.

Until 1954

By 1954, signmakers were able to use durable fade-resistant red coatings for sign faces, so the background color of the STOP sign was changed to the red color you see today. This change also served to distinguish the regulatory STOP sign from yellow warning signs, and also made the color consistent with that of red traffic signal indications, which for decades had used red to signal “stop”.

So there you have it.  We learn a lot on Friday nights!


Really, Mrs. Crouch? You’re an editor now?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

School Street c 1970

Traditionally, only the roadways leading into Oysterville were called “roads” — Territory Road coming from the south and Oysterville Road coming from the west.  All the rest of the roadways were called “streets.”   And so it is today.

But, usually people don’t really identify the places in the village by what road or street they face — especially in the case of the schoolhouse and the church.  There is only one of each and they are pretty obvious even to a first-time visitor.  Most of us residents don’t know what the actual addresses might be.

Some years ago, the State had occasion to replace the street sign where School Street intersects with State Route 103.  For some reason, they replaced it with a sign that said “School Road.”  The street is only one long block in length and it amused the residents greatly that the sign at the east end then said “School Street” while the one at the west end said “School Road.”  Eventually the state corrected their error and, once again, the signs agree.

Sign Predicament

Not that I gave that much thought when I wrote up an article for the Chinook Observer about the Schoolhouse Lectures that will resume (after a silent spring) tomorrow at the Oysterville School.  Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw the headline and first paragraph of my story online and it gave an address for the school!  And, not only that, the wrong address.  “301 School Road” it said.  To make matters worse, for whatever reason, my byline was over the story making it look for all the world that I felt it necessary to post that erroneous address.

I sent Matt Winters a quick email pointing out the Road/Street discrepancy and asking why my lead paragraph had been changed.  He responded right away:  “I didn’t change anything, but I imagine people will find their way.”  Any angst I was feeling immediately dissolved in laughter — yes, I don’t think anyone will be looking in vain for the schoolhouse!

“Mrs. Crouch’s Typewriter”

But, if Editor Matt didn’t change that paragraph, who did?  Never before to my knowledge has the paper felt the need to clarify the location of an Oysterville building  by adding an address.  And why the wrong address at that?  I can only conclude that Mrs. Crouch is messing around once again.  Perhaps she’s not pleased that just yesterday I decided to write about her once again in the sequel to my Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  I even began drafting the story…

Come to think it, I wonder if she’s done any messing with that first draft on my computer.  If so, she’s getting pretty cheeky, don’t you think?  Stay tuned…

What’s a few years or a few miles anyway?

Thursday, July 25th, 2019

Oysterville Store, July 2015

And back to “Oysterville, A Simply Lovely, Living Ghost Town” — the skewed, some-right-some-wrong sort of article in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast.  Paragraphs #11 and #12 are mostly correct. Except for the parts that are totally wrong:

Eight houses, a church, the  cannery and a one-room schoolhouse are on the National Register of Historic Places.  And some structures date back to the 19th century.
Though Oysterville might be considered a ghost town, it does have life.  The post office is the oldest continuously operating post office in Washington.  The Oysterville Store sells groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  Oysterville Sea Farms sells harvested seafood.

Oysterville Store c. 1940

Once upon a time, the Oysterville Store did indeed sell groceries, souvenirs and gifts.  But not recently.  As many a tourist or out-of-town visitor can tell you, the little store has not been open for some time — maybe two or three years now.   I understand, though, why Mr. Webb didn’t think to come all the way north to Oysterville to check it out.  Everyone we know is in agreement that it is very much farther for people who live in the southern regions of the Peninsula to drive north “clear to Oysterville” than it is for us Oystervillians to drive south to their neck of the woods.  Go figure.

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2018

Oysterville Sea Farms, July 2018

But, it’s the Oysterville Sea Farms reference to selling “harvested seafood” that really flummoxes me.  I can’t imagine anyone in the greater Peninsula area or even in Pacific County — especially anyone associated with the Chinook Observer — not knowing that Sea Farms owner Dan Driscoll finally won his fight with the county and can now sell all manner of things (including the souvenirs and gift items erroneously credited to the Oysterville Store.)  Even some of my books are sold there!  Especially the ones about Oysterville!  Perhaps they could have been useful in fact-checking the article for Discovery Coast.  Perhaps a radical idea…