Posts Tagged ‘Chinook Observer’

Thanks for all your kind remarks!

Friday, February 2nd, 2024

February 2, 2024

It’s been a bit busy here this week — people to see, places to go, catching up to do.  No special reason.  It just happens sometimes. Usually those sorts of weeks are a pain in the tush.  But not this one.

For whatever reason, this was the week when my mail was full of kudos and compliments from unexpected quarters — mostly about my “Saints or Sinners” stories that have been appearing in the Chinook Observer each week for the last few months.  Not only have a number of readers weighed in with plaudits and pleasant remarks, but even some descendants of those saints or sinners have written to corroborate information and to let me know of their appreciation.

I probably speak for most writers when I say that positive feedback is not all that easy to come by and is much appreciated when it does arrive.  You’ve probably noticed, yourself, that most often the “Letters to the Editor” are more critical than celebratory.  But, what has come to me lately through Face Book or in response to my blog posts are comments and remarks that warm the cockles of my heart.  Thank you!

I try my best to respond to each person who reaches out.  I’m not always successful, though, and for that I am sorry.  Please do not give up on me!  I’ll try to answer your questions, and let you know how much I appreciate hearing from you.  In large measure, your feedback keeps me going.  Woot!  Woot!

It just gets better and better!

Thursday, January 18th, 2024

This Week’s Front Page

I’m beginning to think those words — “better and better” are getting hard to come by in this old world of ours.  But I do want to give a bit of a shout-out to the Chinook Observer.  If you subscribe to our stellar weekly newspaper, I hope you agree with me.  If not, perhaps you’ll consider treating yourself to a weekly look at our area and the people who keep us going — and, of course, the occasional “baddies” who we should all be aware of.  Or at least, so I think.

Yesterday’s paper was a fine example.  Consider the front page headlines:  “Pet Hospital to serve peninsula and beyond,” “Sheriff facing inquiry,” “Willapa ferry study launched,” “Rookie U.S. rep reflects on 1st year,” and “Ellworth Creek plays key climate research role.”

Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez

Coverage of the local scene just doesn’t get better than that!  Topical, informative articles had my mind and emotions running the gamut.  “Good for the pet hospital!” thought I.  But what about the people needs of our area?  t just doesn’t seem to me that our OBH facilities are able to keep up…

And then the article about Congresswoman Marie Gluesenkamp Perez who is finding that her colleagues in D.C  don’t really share her values or can even command her respect.  That information, while not surprising, saddened me.  I wonder how we can help — or if we can.  I think I’ll start by asking my son Charlie a few questions about possibilities in California.  He’s usually active during Presidential campaigns, at least in his own precinct which includes Congressman Adam Schiff.  I wonder if Marie finds Adam someone with whom she can work readily…

Cathlamet WA to Westport OR Ferry – photo by Matthew Pranger

The ferry study by the graduate students from the University of Washington is also topical, at least to me.  I’ve had numerous questions over the years about the old passenger ferries, the Shamrock and Reliable both of which operated all during my mother’s childhood and were the first leg of any trip to north county and beyond.  However, with our current population and transportation needs, my imagination shudders at the impact on our bay and on the potential ferry landings.  (I mean, have you been to Port Blakely on Bainbridge Island lately?  Or taken the ferry from Anacortes to any of the San Juan Islands?  OMG!  A ferry landing here on the Peninsula would swallow up a good chunk of our landscape.)  But maybe a small ferry like the one that operates between Cathlamet and Westport might work…

And above the masthead — a photo of my favorite local author and a blurb about the lead article in Section Two.  And that’s just the first page of our venerable newspaper.  So much more relevant to my life than any of the big city newspapers!  I highly recommend it — week in and week out!

“First Wednesday” is coming right up!

Monday, December 4th, 2023

Oysterville Schoolhouse

The first Wednesday of each month is when our newly launched Pacific County History Forum meets at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  And, as I was writing the title for this blog, I realized that it’s also the day that my monthly column is published in the Chinook Observer!  So, all-in-all, first Wednesdays are always  Red Letter Days for me!  I’d very much like each one to be memorable for you as well — especially if you are interested in the history of our very special corner of the world!

This week — on Wednesday, December 6th from 10 to 12 at the Oysterville School — will be our fourth-ever History Forum.  The focus will be on oysters and clams — oysters because they were the first industry of the area, continuously growing (ahem!) and morphing for more than 170 years!  Razor clams because they have been important to the growth of the area for just about as many years — maybe even more — but not as an “industry” in quite the same sense as their mollusk relatives in the bay.

To lead our discussion Wednesday will be two veterans of the oyster and clam business, Dobby Wiegardt and Tucker Wachsmuth.  Both are descendants of some of the first oystermen on our bay and they have a wealth of tradition and stories to share. In addition, we are hopeful that there will be some other long-time oystermen and clamdiggers among those attending who will join in the conversation.

Map of Historic Oysterville

Memories from our own “olden days” are fast disappearing and this is an opportunity to keep the stories alive.  I do hope you come to listen and to contribute if you can.  I am mostly hopeful that this is the subject that will put us over the edge — from speakers and audience to a true forum with many of us sharing what seems pertinent or interesting or just plain quirky.

And as far as my column goes — all I can say is I hope you are able to  “willingly suspend your disbelief” just long enough to consider possibilities that may be present right here in Beautiful Downtown Oysterville!  Or perhaps in other special places that have meaning for you.  Or maybe you already have!


Just what is an “honest” mistake, anyway?

Wednesday, October 25th, 2023

I might be nit-picking a bit here, but when I read the Page 2 headline in today’s Observer —State senator says Hong Kong gun charge due to ‘honest mistake’ — I had to stop and mull that over for a bit.  It seems to me that a mistake is a mistake.  Period.  I don’t quite see how there can be an “honest” or a “dishonest” qualifier.

But then my thinking is probably skewed by the fact that the Senator’s “honesty” (or possibly his “mistake”) involved a gun.  And a handgun at that — or so I assume since it was in his carryon luggage along with his chewing gum.  So, in an effort to see if I was mistaken (either honestly or dishonestly), I looked up the word “mistake.”  According to Merriam Webster:  noun. 1. : a wrong judgment : misunderstanding. 2. : a wrong action or statement proceeding from faulty judgment, inadequate knowledge, or inattention.

So then I asked Google, “Is there a difference between an honest mistake and a dishonest mistake?”  And the answer was:  “An honest mistake of course, is understood as someone “trying” with a sincere intent and effort to do well and not make a mistake. A “dishonest mistake” would be more correctly characterized by someone taking on a project with NO intent to avoid a mistake.”

So, am I further ahead than I was when I started?  I honestly don’t have a clue.  I can’t quite wrap my head around someone packing a gun in his carryon luggage “with a sincere intent and effort to do well and not make a mistake” if the rules (or in this case, the law) says No Hand Guns In Carry On Luggage.    I must conclude that his was not a  dishonest mistake (see paragraph above) and I can’t see the “mistake” part very clearly either.   Just plain stupid, I say — no honesty, dis or otherwise, involved.  And certainly not a mistake.

I wonder what the Hong Kong courts will say…


All Puffed Up and You Should Be, Too!

Wednesday, October 11th, 2023

I do so hope you saw (and read!) the story on page A3 of today’s Chinook Observer!  I think every one of us, whether we read our weekly paper cover-to-cover or not, should be justifiably proud of its accomplishments.  After all, the news and features, advertisements and statistical information it presents each week is for us, about us, and often by those we know as neighbors and friends!

Week after week, Wednesday after Wednesday, through the good, bad and ugly times “the paper” documents our lives.  And behind every headline, every hard-won bit of information, and every potential controversy, is the steady hand of Editor Matt Winters.  At the Kennewick ceremony last week, 37 awards were amassed by our little weekly paper!  And how typical that Editor Winters reserved his own “news” for the very last line in the article:  “Winters was elected 2024-25 president of the press association.”

Other winners mentioned on the internet were:  Lynnwood Times – “up to a dozen awards;” Whidbey News-Times – “a record 25 awards;” Sequim Gazette – “earned 18 individual and team honors.” The annual awards were announced during the convention in Kennewick last Saturday. A total of 47 newspapers participated with nearly 1,300 entries in the news and photography categories.

And NOW the question is: can he read?

Wednesday, July 26th, 2023

Daniel Garcia

The Oxford English Dictionary defines the word “read” this way: look at and comprehend the meaning of written or printed matter by mentally interpreting the characters or symbols of which it is composed. 

My headline for this blog is directed to Pacific County Sheriff Daniel Garcia and conerns Matt Winters’ editorial in today’s Chinook Observer.  In clearly presented topic-by-topic style, Winters’ words offer some very specific suggestions to our young law enforcement leader — should Sheriff Garcia read them.  And, more importantly, should he comprehend their meaning, pointed out by the OED as an integral part of the reading process.  Or, as Nyel often said when flummoxed by the actions or comments by someone who should know better:  “There’s no substitute for brains.”

Garcia’s recent interactions with the John Birch Society even caused a discussion here in Oysterville at last Friday’s traditional get-together — a group of friends and neighbors who have been informally gathering here each week for more than twenty years.  No matter who comes — and there have been many with disparate beliefs and passions — we seldom, if ever, cross that socially acceptable line of discussion regarding politics, sex, or religion.  Last Friday we did.

Shades of Yosemite Sam?

Mostly, remarks focussed on the John Birch Society (JBS) and our incredulity that they had apparently surfaced in Pacific County.  I credit my cousins — both with California backgrounds — for remembering (along with me and several others in the room) the horrors brought about by the Birchers in Orange County in the 1960s.  Perhaps you, too, remember their successful efforts to pass “Prop 14.”

Editorial – July 26, 2023

California Proposition 14 was a November 1964 initiative ballot measure that amended the California state constitution and nullified the 1963 Rumford Fair Housing Act. Prop 14 allowed property sellers, landlords. and their agents to openly discriminate on ethnic grounds when selling or letting accommodations, as they had been permitted to before 1963.  Fortunately, in 1966, the California Supreme Court in a 5–2 split decision declared Proposition 14 unconstitutional.

Those of us who lived through those years in California — even in Northern California, as I did, hundreds of miles from the John Birch epicenter — will never forget.  The thought of our sheriff (or any of our community members and neighbors) going to “private meetings” with JBS members is downright frightening.  Bravo, Matt Winters, for your editorial!  And even if our Sheriff can’t or won’t read it and take it to heart, I hope the majority of our citizens do!



I’m loving the Saints or Sinners feedback!

Friday, July 21st, 2023

Isaac Alonzo Clark’s story was in the May 24, 2023 Observer.

For all of you who have contacted me via email or text or through my blog… Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and interest in my current “Saints or Sinners?” series in the Observer. I’m having such fun researching and writing about these “characters” of Pacific County and I’m delighted that readers are enjoying them.

One comment, however, prompted me to go back and do a bit of counting up.  The writer expressed concern that I was dealing with more men than women.  That’s certainly true to date, but will tend to even out at time goes on.  Thus far, I’ve written 30 stories but, if my count is correct, only 18 of those have been published so far. (And there may well be more!) Those first 18 have featured 11 men, 4 women and several stories involving both a man and a woman.

Cecelia Jane Haguet Johnson Howard’s story was in the June 7, 2023 Observer.

Though I’ve not confined myself to a chronological order, I have leaned rather heavily on early “characters” of Pacific County, and a great preponderance of those — at least those who were written about — were men.  I guess the pioneer women were busy tending to the home fires and not as apt to have snippets of gossip or speculation written about them.  Certainly, they are harder to research!  But in the next weeks, more women will surface as “saints or sinners.”

And, by all means, if you have suggestions for me — especially if you can give me some reliable sources for factual information about them — do share!  I can be reached at and am always interested in a good story about the characters of Pacific County!


Have you read today’s “Observer” yet?

Wednesday, May 10th, 2023

Extra! Read all about it!

In answer to my own question, I have to say, “Only partly.” And those portions that I did read sent me through the gamut of emotions — disgust and distrust, anger and sadness, shame and anxiety.  Plus a good dollop or two of fear as I considered the implications  of  our young and totally inexperienced sheriff’s beliefs as outlined in the letter to the editor from Dave Sweblom of Raymond.  Scarey.

A bright spot was Ken Woodrich’s letter urging Ocean Park to incorporate.  I so hope that his words resonate with the leaders of what could be the largest municipality on the Peninsula.  Don’t you find it ludicrous, in this day and age, that we are still limited to three county commissioners just as we were in 1851 when Pacific County was formed and our population was 152, with 61 eligible voters?  Now,   our population is well over 23,000 and we still have three County Commissioners who (duh!) have far more responsibilities;  it will not be until our County population reaches 300,000 that we will be eligible for another commissioner.

The only answer for better oversight seems to be for a big chunk of the  population to remove themselves from the Commissioners’ jurisdiction by forming a municipality.  It would not only give autonomy to the new city (of Ocean Park) but, presumably, it would free up the rest of the County Commissioners a bit, giving them a chance to pay better attention to the needs of their constituents.

And then… the dreadful news of the Hospital Bond which failed by less than one-tenth of one percentage point.  I don’t know if the 60% passage requirement (the super majority) was mandated for that Bond, but I’m pretty sure it was not required for passage of “Ban the Boom.”  My understanding is that the super majority was an arbitrary requirement.  In the olden days, we simply called that “stacking the deck.”

Uncle Cecil’s Wheelbarrow by Earl Thollander

Well… I must get back to my reading.  If you get to Section B, do read my “Saints or Sinners” story and tell me if you think I should be less like “the talkative Espys” and more like Uncle  Cecil and Uncle Will.  Especially with regard to current times.


Gobsmacked doesn’t quite express it!

Wednesday, April 12th, 2023

Flintlock Pistol typical of available ordnance in 1789 when the 2nd amendment was written – capable of holding one shot at a time.

That Cate is taking a much-deserved break from her “Coast Chronicles” column in the Observer did not come as a total surprise today.  After writing every single week for fifteen (!) years, it seems that a little down time is more than her due, and even though I miss reading the local news that often doesn’t make the paper in other ways, I was fine with her absence.

What I was NOT fine with — in fact it took me three (count ’em 1-2-3) tries to read the article by Sen. Jeff Wilson — was the mish-mash published in Cate’s usual “spot.”   First I was stopped dead in my tracks (you might say) by the illustrations of the AR-15-style rifles that dominated the top of Page A-5.  I felt personally assaulted and insulted by the images.  Why does my hometown paper need to show these as if promoting them?  Plus I have NO (read: zero, zip, nada) idea what the caption was about — receiver extension? rear takedown pin? buttstock? — and could care even less.

After those two dead stops, I finally gave my attention to Senator Jeff Wilson’s words.  At first reading, I was simply confused.  Several more tries and I realized that the man is arguing against himself.  On the one hand he says that we have seen a “breakdown of our social order” and cites “homelessness,” “weakened abilities of law enforcement agencies” and the erasure of “our drug laws from the books.”

Yep.  I agree.  Society has changed.  But THEN he wants to go back to the letter of the law of our 2nd amendment and… what?  Apply that to a totally different society?  And that will fix everything?  I don’t know about you, but I cannot wrap my head around that concept.

Muskets, like flintlock pistols, were the typical firearms when the 2nd amendment was written. They, also, could hold a single round at a time, and a skilled shooter could hope to get off three or possibly four rounds in a minute of firing.

Or… maybe I can IF we swap out every current-day gun with a weapon manufactured before 1789 when the 2nd amendment was written.  Then maybe we’d have a more even playing field in this “changed” society of ours.

Egad, Cate!  I’m sure you can use a break after all these years, but for Heaven’s sake don’t make it too long.  My old brain can’t take much more boggling like today’s!

All the new that’s fit to print. And then some!

Wednesday, April 5th, 2023

I’m talking about the Wednesday, April 5, 2023 edition of the Chinook Observer.  Beginning on Page 1 with the report on our Sheriff’s Office dragging its feet in answering a 911 call (from the Pacific County Fire District No. 1, no less!).

I am reminded of a time, not so long ago, when my son asked me if living by myself made me nervous.  “Only insofar as getting assistance from our Sheriff’s Department goes; we never see them around here.” was my answer.  And here it is.  In black and white from a source that should have more clout than most of the rest of us.  Damned right I get nervous.

And also on Page 1 at the top of the page, a report that Pacific County’s population has had the highest growth in the state over the past year.  And at the bottom of the page, this headline “State House budget stingy with county.”

But wait.  Aren’t tax dollars allocated by the State to County projects supposed to reflect the most recent census figures — as in, the more growth we have in population, the more money will be directed our way by the State???  No doubt I have it screwed up.  For sure somebody does.

And galloping right on through — Cate Gable’s “April Fool’s Day thoughts.” Her article is one of the most powerful I’ve read on our continuing stupidity regarding gun control.   “Please review the steps we’ve taken to land here” she writes “– in which a school full of our most vulnerable and precious citizens is the taget for military assaults of the twisted-minded; in which the potential of our nation, its youth is what we are willing to sacrifice in order to buy, carry, hande se and miuse weapons meant for war.”  And she continues, “I would say this qualifies us as a nation of fools.”

Well, those are the “bad” and the “ugly” news reports.  I commend you to pages A-4 and B-1 where the really “good” news is happening.  Oh!  Wait!  It’s almost all by me or, even better, about me.  I loved Leisa Jennings report on the PCHS luncheon!  And I loved seeing Aunt Kate’s story at the bottom of Page B1.  Be sure you turn to B-4 and read the rest of it.  There’s a great punch line!