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(SLSE Railroad)

Skagit River Journal

of History & Folklore
Free Home Page Stories & Photos
The most in-depth, comprehensive site about the Skagit

Covers from British Columbia to Puget Sound. Counties covered: Skagit, Whatcom, Island, San Juan, Snohomish & BC. An evolving history dedicated to committing random acts of historical kindness
Noel V. Bourasaw, editor (bullet) 810 Central Ave., Sedro-Woolley, Washington, 98284
Home of the Tarheel Stomp (bullet) Mortimer Cook slept here & named the town Bug

(Click to send email)

Puget Sound Mail

(AYP log exhibit)
From the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific centennial website:
See our notes below about centennial now being celebrated.

2009 Archives
Journal for Nov. 22-Dec. 5, 2009
Recorded Nov. 22, 2009, updated Nov. 29
    Chapter Six (See Current 2010 column)

See farther below for Oct. 25-Nov. 22, 2009
    including Tennessee Waltz, Helen Manier and my mother; Art, Books and Coffee, Cygnus Gallery & Arts Alive/LaConner Nov. 6-8; Hunter's Moon, Harvest Moon, Once in a Blue Moon
    including Trumpeter Swans return with a flourish; Robert Sund and the Ish rivers
See below for Sept. 27-Oct. 14, 2009
    including Tusko tears up Woolley in 1922; Edison Eye Gallery, Late night espresso in Woolley
    Gary B's Church of the Blues, Just Moe's Steak & Spirits
See below for Sept. 6-26
    including The amazing pioneer, Thomas Pier Hastie; the mysterious island that supposedly
    rose in the Nooksack River due to an earthquake in 1900?;
    the Jim Harris memorial; Train Wreck tavern in Burlington
See below for Aug. 23-Sept. 5
    including New Charles Wilkes book; LaConner Turkeytopia?
    Julie and Julia movie review; my friend Deano
See below for Aug. 16-22, 2009,
    (including Bickleton, Bluebirds, Whoop-n-Holler Museum,
    Oregon's 150th state birthday, The Dalles, Hood River)
See below for Aug. 9-15, 2009,
the beginning, Recorded Aug. 9, 2009
    (including A-Y-P centennial exhibit in Seattle,
    & thanks to my many hosts)

New items added Nov. 28
Inspecting Carol, a new play at the Lincoln
The F&S Railway was planned as the Blue Streak Line This week's features, Nov. 22-29
Trumpeter Swans return with a flourish On finding a donkey in Death Valley, with a Skagit Steel brand
Tap-dancing taste buds and Cygnus Gallery
No Bald Eagle Festival in 2010
Rainy Day Books, Concrete
Under construction, more
items added later this week

(circle of swans)
      This week and month and season, we are thinking all about swans, specifically Cygnus buccinators, the trumpeter swans, who were in my thoughts constantly during my recent illness. The year revolves around them for many of us who have lived here for decades. We smile when a friend calls us and says excitedly, "I saw the first swans foraging on the south side of Cook Road." This photo is by Duke Coonrad (not Conrad, as we originally posted), whose webpage shows dozens of his terrific photos, including Skagit Valley and the swans. Some would make great gifts for the holidays. Click on the photo to see an even larger, more detailed version.

Trumpeter Swans return with a flourish

Listening to:
Winter has come for me, can't carry on.
The chains to my life are strong but soon they'll be gone.
I'll spread my wings one more time.
Is it a dream?
All the ones I have loved calling out my name.
The sun warms my face.
All the days of my life, I see them passing me by.

"Swan Song," composed by Robert Westerholt, Daniel Gibson; Sharon Den Adelt; Martijn Spierenburg.
From the 2005 CD, Silent Force, by Within Temptation, the Dutch group formed by
Den Adelt (vocals) and Westerholt (guitar) in 1996.

(Mute Swan)
The phrase "swan song" is a reference to an ancient belief that the Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) is completely mute during its lifetime until the moment just before it dies, when it sings one beautiful song. This painting dates to 1655, by Dutch painter Reinier van Persijn.

      Autumn is pretty much my favorite time of the year, especially after returning home from living in California for many years and missing the clear delineation of the seasons in many locations there. I revel in the change of color in the trees, the leaves covering country lanes and blue highways and the cool, crisp mornings when I can hear birds singing everywhere around my house in Sedro-Woolley. But most of all I love this season because the Trumpeter swans return and brighten all our lives as they munch on greenery at their favorite feeding grounds, especially on the Cook Road and on the stretch of land all around Highway Nine, the east fork of the Nookachamps and the Bancroft Road, including the section called Orilla where L.A. Boyd housed his family at one time.
      My first memory — if it was not induced somehow — is being placed in the front seat of our old '46 Plymouth and we drove over the hill on Swan Road, where we first rented in 1947, and suddenly we heard the chorus of trumpets, the Doppler effect of the murmuring overture of their instruments. There is no other sound quite like it in the world. I'll let the Seattle Audubon take it from here:
      [Ed. note: The swans indeed have arrived, possibly in larger numbers than last year, but we shall have to read the birders' counts to confirm. In the car, as Stumpranch publisher Dan Royal headed out Cook Road on our way to Seattle last week to join in one of the series of KCBS History Café's, we saw well over a hundred trumpeters spread out over about a half mile on the south side of the road. Sublime.

Trumpeter Swan
Cygnus buccinator Order: Anseriformes Family: Anatidae [click on the audio link for that wonderful sound]
Conservation Status
      Trumpeter Swans once nested over most of North America but disappeared rapidly due to human development and hunting practices. By the 1930s, fewer than 100 Trumpeter Swans remained south of Canada. With habitat preservation, protection from hunting, and reintroduction efforts, Trumpeter Swans have experienced a comeback, especially in the Northwest.
      They are now found in greater numbers in Washington than anywhere else in the contiguous United States. Of the over 15,000 individuals estimated in North America, more than 2,000 were counted in Skagit County during the 1999-2000 hunting season. Populations are still increasing and expanding their range to other counties in Washington, but they are not without threat. Habitat loss is still an issue, as is lead poisoning. Trumpeter Swans ingest lead shot as grit to help digest hard grains, and as few as three pellets can kill a Trumpeter Swan.
      Although lead shot is banned for hunting waterfowl in both the US and Canada, it can still be used for hunting upland birds and for trap shooting, which occurs in some of the areas where Trumpeter Swans winter. Swan die-offs from lead poisoning occur periodically. In 1992 a number of poisoned Trumpeter Swans were found, and in 1999-2000, at least 87 died.
      Since 2000, hundreds of Trumpeter Swans have died of lead poisoning in Whatcom County. The source of the lead shot is not known, but wildlife officials are trying to identify the source, so that they can remove it and prevent this from occurring in the future. Ailing Trumpeter Swans must be removed, as scavengers can also get lead poisoning from preying on poisoned swans.
When and Where to Find in Washington
      Trumpeter Swans spend the winter from November to April in the open fields and estuaries of Skagit and Whatcom Counties. Padilla Bay, Samish Bay, and Samish Flats are all areas that Trumpeter Swans frequent. Recently, this range has expanded to Grays Harbor and other areas of western Washington. They are uncommon in similar habitats in eastern Washington during winter. There are currently no Trumpeter Swans breeding in Washington, but a pair has been seen during the breeding season at the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (Spokane County) since 1994, and they may breed in coming years.

      More wonderful sites to see and hear the swans:
(bullet) Snow Geese & Trumpeter Swans are Here November 1, 2009 - March 30, 2010, and Skagit/LaConner events during that period
(bullet) Skagit Wildlife Area: Johnson Debay Swan Reserve, A 295-acre Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife site with sloughs, seasonal ponds, wetlands, and corn fields. and then read our Journal website about DeBay Island
(bullet) Natural Moments: Bird and Wildlife Photography, Trumpeter Swans Along the Skagit River
(bullet) Day hiking in Skagit County and bird-viewing

On finding a donkey engine in Death Valley, with a Skagit Steel brand
(Donkey engine)
      Did you work at Skagit Steel? If not, do you know their donkey engines well? If you answer yes to either, we hope you can explain the details of this persevering machine to our correspondent who asks the questions below.

Listening to Melody Gardot sing:
I need a hand with my worrisome heart
I need a hand with my worrisome heart
I would be lucky to find me a man
Who could love me the way that I am
With this here worrisome heart

I need a break from my troubling ways
I need a break from my troubling ways
I would be lucky to find me a man
Who could love me the way that I am
With all my troubling ways

"Worrisome Heart" from the album of the same name. Written and
performed by Melody Gardot.

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Donkey engine)
(Label 1)
(Label 2)
Far left: The donkey engine: click here for an even larger size with more detail. Center: The donkey label one. Right: The donkey label two.

      For the nearly ten years we have been conducting this virtual history tour, we have been blessed regularly, sometimes weekly, with emails from readers chock-full of new information that is not available in any conventional sources. They include copies of diaries and letters, photographs never published and sometimes personal discoveries. The latest such surprise over the transom is the discovery of a Skagit Steel machine in a very out-of-the-way place. Here is how it began; an email from Chuck Bollman read:
      We were just in Death Valley this week camping and came across this Donkey Engine that looks like it is still being used. With the flat head Ford V8, I would guess it is from the 30's or 40's. I checked to see if the company was still in business and found your site. Maybe someone there will know something about this piece of equipment
      It is ready to run, fuel filter and spark plugs look like new. Put in a battery and I'm 100 percent sure it would start. If I knew how it worked, I would give it a try, I would like to see the cart go up and down the mountain.
      Here are some of the pics from the Death Valley trip, we just got back yesterday. We go 3-4 times per year, but we have Jeeps and go way in where most people never go. This trip we came in from 395 out of Big Pine, CA. We camped for 5 days and explored a lot of old mines and canyons with water falls in the middle of the desert.

      So, dear reader, please check out the photos above and below. Do you know anything about this machine or do you know an old-timer either from Skagit Steel or who is great mechanic and might be able to tell us more about the machinery in the photos? The only clues we have is that they were found in Death Valley somewhere near Lippincott Pass and Teakettle Junction. How could you pass up a sign pointing you to Teakettle Junction?

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(4-wheel jeep and wagon)
(Talc Mine)
(Rails at the site)
Far left: Into the valley thru the mountain pass. Center: Day trip to a talc mine above the valley. Right: Rails at the site.

Click on these thumbnails for full-sized photos
(Donkey with cables and rigging)
(Another machine)
(Teakettle Junction)
Far left: Donkey with cables and rigging. Center: A second machine.. Right: Ever wonder where old teakettles go to die?.

No Bald Eagle Festival in 2010
(Bald Eagle)
Click on photo for an eagle close-up ("they're ready for their close-ups, Mr. DeMille").

      We hate to be the bearer of bad tidings, but we learned a month ago that Skagit County has cut funds that have been allocted annually for the Bald Eagle Festival in January and February. That is why the Skagit Eagle Website ( is no longer posted.
      We are going to step into this breech and offer a series of bald eagle stories for the people who want to visit the Skagit River anyway and do not need a festival to guide them. Here are more excellent sources for the eagles and for the area:
(bullet) North Cascades Institute. They have two special class/workshops. Dec. 12 and Jan. 16, 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.: Eagles and Salmon: Northwest Icons on the Skagit with Libby Mills. Every winter, hundreds of bald eagles migrate to the Skagit River to feast on the Puget Sound's richest salmon runs. Bundle up, grab your binoculars and join Libby Mills, a renowned naturalist who has studied this natural wonder for more than 25 years. Feb. 20: Winter Wings: Birds of the Skagit and Samish Flats with Jim Alt. Join Institute naturalist Jim Alt for a field excursion designed to celebrate one of the Northwest's natural treasures. Traveling together, we'll survey the area's profound bird life, with a focus on raptors, wintering waterfowl and shorebirds, as well as the relationships that bring these various species together in this particular place.
(bullet) Concrete Herald, Jason Miller's revived newspaper in Concrete, for the upriver.
(bullet) Concrete Chamber of Commerce.
(bullet) Can you suggest other resources or events during that regular time of the festival?

Tap-dancing taste buds: Baba Ghanouj
      Last month we introduced you to the owners of the relatively new Cygnus Galley in LaConner. Three partners, Elizabeth Noyes, Peggy Doyle,and Maggie Wilder., show their own work and paintings, prints and sculpture and others on Friday, Saturday and Sunday weekly. Theyare located catacornered from the famous old LaConner bank and Magnus Anderson's 1869 cabin, just a block uphill from Main Street. Elizabeth Noyes shared with us the recipe for the lovely baba ghanouj that they feature at their monthly openings:
Baba Ghanouj
For 6 large portions
2 medium small eggplants
juice from one good-sized lemon
1/2 cup tahini
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
1 tsp. salt
lots of fresh black pepper
1 tbs olive oil
(Optional) 1/4 cup finely-minced scallions
      Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut of stems of eggplants and prick eggplants with a fork. Put them in oven and let them roast for about 45 minutes. When they are totally soft and crumpled you know they're done. Remove and wait to cool. Scoop out insides of eggplants and mash. Add all ingredients above. Chill and drizzle more oil on top just before serving. Serve with pita triangles or bread.

      Yum. Life is good. The December Cygnus show is about Adornment, where 20 rtists present unique and unusual wearable art. You can read about the show in their brochure. Louisa McCuskey is one of the artists, as described by the gallery owners:
      Louisa was born and raised in the heart of Skagit Valley. Her artwork has always been strongly influenced by the beauty of Fidalgo Island and the Native tribal energy of La Conner, her home town. Her latest designs explore the ancient art of making artifacts, heirlooms and adornments that will last for generations, and continue to hold meaning or tell a story.
      Louisa uses deep and vivid jewel tone colors with sacred geometry, and things that 'catch the light'. Louisa continues to make art because she is inspired by a futuresque vision of an emerging Neo-Tribal culture in America that will unify people with a 'tribal togetherness' and transcend race and religion. She is dedicated to inspiring others with more abundant joy and inner knowing through 'prayer-formance' art, experiential art installations, and cosmic wearables.
      The gallery is at 109 Commercial St., about a half-block uphill from Main Street. It is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 p.m. That is a very historic location, cata-cornered from the 1886 bank building of William E. Schricker and Laurin L. Andrews and the Magnus Anderson 1869 historic cabin beside it.

Rainy Day Books in Concrete

(Weiser's Cafe)
      Years ago, Don Kelly gave me this blurred copy of a 1930s photo of Weiser's Café in Concrete, which I understand was in the ground floor of the Mount Baker Hotel. Can any of you readers tell us anything more about the restaurant and/or the café? The hotel's new owners will likely change the name of the hotel.

Listening to:
Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain
Telling me just what a fool I've been
I wish that it would go away and let me cry in vain
And let me be alone again
The only girl I care about has gone away
Looking for a brand-new start
But little does she know that when she left that day
Along with her she took my heart

"Listen to the rhythm of the rain," composed by John Claude Gummoe in 1962 when he was the drummer for The Cascades, the group that first made the song famous, then Johnny Tillotson sold a bunch of his own records with it. This version is a little campy, the song performed by Vietnamese pop star Trish Trang. It's a hoot.

      Just as we were about to tell you about the wonderful bookstore in Concrete, we learn from owner Diana Apple that she and her husband, Mike, are in the process of closing it down after he lost his job. But the good news is that they have a wide stock of books, for adults and children, along with gifts, and they are marking everything down with a planned closing date of December 20.
      This is the second time that they have added a great cultural asset to Concrete. After moving away for awhile, they came back and reopened Rainy Day. When we visited the last time this summer, they had been well received and Diana had filled every nook and cranny of the Main Street building with books. But book lovers, this is an opportunity that you must not miss. 45968 Main Street. (360) 941-0606 so you can call and inquire about your favorite book or genre. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday.
      By the way, across the street, new owners have bought the old Mountain Baker Hotel. They plan some major changes such as shifting from the residential rentals back to overnight and tourist rentals in season. We will share more about them after we actually meet them or hear from them.

Inspecting Carol, a new play at the Lincoln Theater

Listening to:
Oh Carol, don't let him steal your heart away
I'm gonna learn to dance if it takes me all night and day
Climb into my machine so we can cruise on out
I know a swingin' little joint where we can jump and shout
It's not too far back off the highway, not so long a ride
You park your car out in the open, you can walk inside
A little cutie takes your hat and you can thank her, ma'am
Every time you make the scene you find the joint is jammed

"Oh Carol," composed by Neal Sadaka in 1959, named for his friend and fellow composer Carole King. Sung and performed here by Chucky Berry and Keith Richards.

      Ellen Palmer is not only famous for being the director of the Sedro-Woolley Senior Center for lo, at least a dozen years. Oh no; she has many other talents. Little did we know until recently that she has a yen for interior decorating and she even shared one of the secrets: the rule of threes. But today we sing her praises as the executive producer of the play, Inspecting Carol, a holiday farce at the Lincoln Theater. The play runs from Dec. 4 to 19. On Friday and Saturdays, the show time is 7:30 p.m. There will also be 7:30 presentations on Thursdays, with the one on Dec. 10 being a bargain matinee. Matinees will be presented on both Sundays at 2 p.m. We'll let them tell you what transpires.
Inspecting Carol: Synopsis & Characters
      Mix together a struggling theater company, a tired production of A Christmas Carol, a really bad actor and a visiting inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts and you end up with Inspecting Carol, the off-the-wall holiday farce. Everything that could possibly go wrong does as a fictitious theater company struggles to mount their annual production of the holiday classic.
      Bad theater has never been this much fun before. Daniel Sullivan and the Seattle Repertory Company created Inspecting Carol as an antidote to the endless parade of annual productions of A Christmas Carol. As it I developed, the piece also grew into a satiric look at government funding for the arts and how it affects the organizations that receive it.
      The insanity begins when the company members of a small regional theater mistake a neophyte (and very bad) actor as an inspector from the National Endowment for the Arts. In order to hold onto their funding, the company does everything possible to keep this person happy, including casting him in their production of A Christmas Carol and letting him rewrite large sections of the story.
      When the real inspector shows up, the company is forced to perform what can charitably be called the worst production ever of the Dickens classic. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future forget their lines, Bob Cratchit throws out his back trying to carry Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley gets tangled in his chains, Mrs. Cratchit becomes a vampy sex kitten, Scrooge begins to speak his lines in Spanish to protest U.S. policy in Central America and the stage manager is stricken with an uncontrollable fit of the giggles . . . all before things really begin to go wrong. [Here are a few of the people in the play:

Character Descriptions:
(bullet) Zorah Bloch: Founding director of The Soapbox Playhouse. In her 40s. Extremely self concerned. Dramatic "over the top". Blames everything on her Lithuanian ancestry. Very set in her ways. Artistically challenged. Husband recently passed away. She is willing to do anything . . . to save her theatre.
(bullet) Sidney Carlton : Founding member of the company. In his 60s. Kind but somewhat addled. Good natured. Been there done that. Tad oblivious.
(bullet) Dorothy Tree Hapgood: Sidney's wife. A founding member of the company. In her 60s, English and unable to loose her accent. Must have proper English accent. Americanized English transplant. Tries to have the last word on accents. A bit eccentric. Kind and mothering.
(bullet) Larry Vauxhall : Founding member of the company. In his 40s. Tough, intellectually vain. Child of the '60s, still looking for a turn-on. Artist desperate to be free. Clashes with Zora on almost everything. Recently went through a divorce and lost everything.

The F&S Railway was planned as the Blue Streak Line

Listening to:
All around the water tank
Waiting for a train
A thousand miles away from home
Sleeping in the rain

I walked up to a brakeman
To give him a line of talk
He says "If you've got the money
I'll see that you don't walk"

I haven't got a nickel
Not a penny I can show
"Get off, get off, you railroad bum"
He slammed the boxcar door

"Waiting for a train," composed by Jimmie Rodgers in 1929. Sung and performed here by Boz Scaggs, 1969, from his eponymous first album. And don't miss "Somebody loan be a dime" on the same album.

      You may have heard the term "train nuts," which is often applied to people who turn their heads reflexively toward the sound of train whistle, or to those who will drop anything to hear about or talk about trains. Some train nuts are world-famous medical professionals, such as the radiologist who teamed up with oncology to save my life. He loves trains so much that he embedded the front half of a locomotive into a hillside near Burlington and built his house around it. So his basement is Valhalla and when we visit, we train nuts smile and say, "that'll do." I don't know if Allen Miller is a train nut. We have not yet met in person. But we have corresponded for several years now, as he sends me wonderful photos of trains and depots, corrects train myths and supplies information that has never been published. His latest email is a wonderful discovery about the Fairhaven & Southern line, which connected Fairhaven and old Sedro in 1889. After 15 years of research, we profiled the line a couple of years ago . Now Allen adds a wonderful detail:
      I came across some information on the Fairhaven and Southern Ry. that I don't think any of us knew about. First time I have heard of it however. It was contained in a lengthy article on the new railroad in the July 4, 1889 edition of The Oregonian [Portland] newspaper.
      As you know, a lot of railroads used tag lines to help identify themselves. The Northern Pacific was known as "The Route of the Great Big Baked Potato", the Western Pacific was known as "The Feather River Route", the Idaho & Washington Northern was "The Pend Oreille River Route", etc. Well it seems that the Fairhaven & Southern Ry. was known in it's early years as "The Blue Streak Line" and a light blue colored streak, or band, was the trade mark of both the railway and the city of Fairhaven.
      This light blue mark was carried on the letterheads of the railway and the Fairhaven Land Co., the hotel, railroad and steamboat letter heads, bills of lading, shipping blanks, etc. had a band of light blue of about ˝ inch width printed at their head. On the equipment, the tenders, locomotives themselves, freight and flat cars and cabooses all carried a streak of light blue on their sides. As do the company's freight and passenger steamers operated between Fairhaven and all Sound points.
      The "streak" was painted in proper proportions to width on whatever it was applied to, being about a foot wide on passenger and freight cars. The idea being that, as their trains were passing by they would appear as a "blue streak" to the observer.
      It was also proposed to apply this streak to the elegant new hotel that was being built in Fairhaven in mid-1889 and that the employees of the company would sport blue hat bands to further carry on the theme.
      Now knowing this, if you look closely at the photo you have of Fairhaven & Southern locomotive No. 2 you can see this light blue band extending across the middle of the locomotive's tender and possibly also across the cab below the window.
      Anyway, this was all news to me and I thought it a novel way to promote the new railroad and distinguish it and it's equipment from others and wanted to share it with you. It probably worked well on captive equipment like the passenger train but lost it's effect once the freight trains started accepting inbound shipments in cars from other lines, thus "breaking up" the continuous blue streak from locomotive to caboose.

      What can I say, Allen, but thank you and . . . all aboard.

(F and S Railroad)
      The Fairhaven & Southern railroad on the first day of through service from Fairhaven to old Sedro on the northern shore of the Skagit River, on Christmas Eve, 1889. This was the beginning of Sedro as a frontier magnet. The boom only lasted 2 years until the Financial Panic of 1893 leveled many boom towns just as businesses were leveled in the late 1990s. But what a fantastic ride it was. This is F&S Engine #2, manufactured in Schenectady, New York. Cost: $18,461.30, f.o.b. We assume that the lokey was manufactured by Schenectady Locomotive Works, which merged with other companies to become American Locomotive Co. in 1901

This week's features, Oct. 27-Nov. 14
Tennessee Waltz, Helen Manier and my mother Art, Books and Coffee, Cygnus Gallery & Arts Alive/LaConner Nov. 6-8 Hunter's Moon, Harvest Moon, Once in a Blue Moon
Trumpeter Swans return with a flourish
Robert Sund and the Ish rivers
Under construction, more
items added later this week

Tennessee Waltz, Helen Manier and my mother

Listening to:
I was dancing' with my baby to the Tennessee Waltz
When an old friend I just happened to see
I introduced her to my loved one
And while they were dancin'
My friend stole my sweetheart from me

I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz
And I knew just how much I had lost
I have lost my little darlin'
The night they were playing
The beautiful Tennessee Waltz

"The Tennessee Waltz" was originally recorded on Columbia by Roy Acuff and the Smoky Mountain Boys in 1949 and both Patti Page and Les Paul and Mary Ford recorded hit versions in 1950. Back in 1946, Pee Wee King headed up his Golden West Cowboys band and while they were on the road to Nashville, Tennessee, he and his vocalist and good friend, Redd Stewart, heard the car radio blaring out Bill Monroe's "Kentucky Waltz." They wondered why a waltz had not been written about the state of Tennessee. They decided to write a set of lyrics to the music of the band's theme song, "No Name Waltz." The resulting "Tennessee Waltz," like "Roll Over Beethoven" and "Crocodile Rock," is self-referential, a song about the song itself. Performed here by Holly Cole and her Trio, in 1992, from her album, Don't Smoke in Bed.

      At lunch the other day at the Sedro-Woolley Senior Center several folks mentioned that Helen Manier was feeling poorly. Some of you may remember Helen from her singing with the "Wild Women of Woolley." Others may remember her at the Legion Club, old and then new. Still others, long in the tooth like your humble editor, may recall her as a much younger Helen who sang at the Oasis Tavern, at the crook of the Minkler Highway and the Hoehn Road, across the street from Doc Hopke's house.
      When I was a very young pup, sometimes my folks would take me along and I would play in the back room along with other country boogie chillen [John Lee Hooker]. We all loved when she sang one of the favorites from that era: "Bimbo": "Bimbo, Bimbo, where do you go-e-oh?"— Gene Autry. Sandy Rodriguez and I reminisce about it now and then because her relatives once owned the Oasis. Whenever Dad would buy a new Pontiac from Joe Hamel, at his old dealership on State Street, mother used to joke that "no matter how many new cars Victor buys, the new one always seems to stop at the Oasis."
      Many years ago Helen learned that "The Tennessee Waltz" was my mother's favorite song of all time and consequently Helen would always play it at the piano and sing it when mother was at the club. I can still remember when mother had gone to the convalescent center, I used to request the song when Helen was performing at the old American Legion Club in the basement next door to where it is now. Barely 16 bars into that song, some old timer would ask, "Did you bust Hazel out of the home?" But Helen also went the extra mile. She played out at the convalescent center and whenever mother attended, she sang "Tennessee Waltz for her; once, near the end, Helen even sat on the side of her bed and played it for her.
      Helen, you're an angel. And David Manier is a marvelous story teller, especially about when he witnessed the Chosin Reservoir conflagration in the winter of 1950 during the forgotten war — the Korea "police action." And he and his brother Larry were pitchers on semi-pro baseball teams in the Northwest and in British Columbia. In fact, Larry Manier, as a right-handed pitcher for Great Falls of the Pioneer League in 1951, gained fame and the record books while amassing a 26-7 record, with 2.68 earned run average, which nowadays would propel him upstairs to the big show to start for the Dodgers.
      But Helen's favorite Manier actually became more famous or at least one of his letters was certainly read more widely, back on Sept. 24, 2000. But I'll let Abigail Van Buren take it from here:

      Dear Abby: I wish you could find the space in your column to reprint a letter my husband wrote after Memorial Day. It was printed in our local paper. I'm sure our armed services veterans would appreciate it.
— Helen Manier, Sedro Woolley, WA.
Dear Helen: I am pleased to print your husband's eloquent and timely letter. Its message isn't just for veterans - it's for everyone.

They Died So You Can Vote
By David Manier
      For many years my emotions have been moved by Memorial Day remembrances and ceremonies. This year was emotional as always, but I was struck by the thought that those who made the supreme sacrifice are being let down by many in this country.
      There is a thin line between a government of the people, for the people and by the people, and a governing body that prohibits the governed any means to improve their quality of life. That thin line is the right by free and honest elections to select the persons who govern and represent the citizens. The right to enact or disallow many social or economic changes. That thin line is the right to vote.
      The right to vote is extended to selecting the officers of your labor union, religious group, social or fraternal organization. Labor unions and religious freedom are not allowed in a police state or dictatorship.
      Hundreds of thousands of armed forces members have died to preserve our government and our right to vote. The citizens of this country who are eligible to vote — but do not — commit a grave disservice to those who died in wars defending the United States. Their deaths should not have been in vain.

Dear readers: If you haven't already registered to vote, now is the time to do it. Get moving. Forward march!
      Dave, take special good care of Helen. We want to hear her sing at the Senior Center soon.

(Swans 2)
Swans landing, courtesy of Duke Conrad

Art, Books and Coffee, the most satisfying threesome
Cygnus Gallery and Arts Alive

Listening to:
If I expected love When first we kissed,
Blame it on my youth.
If only just for you I did exist,
If you were on my mind all night and day,
Blame it on my youth.
If I forgot to eat and sleep and pray,
Please don't blame it on my heart,
Blame it on my youth.

"Blame it on my youth," lyrics by Eddie Heyman and music written by the wonderful Oscar Levant in 1934, six years after he moved to Hollywood and met George Gershwin, the beginning of their collaboration. Performed here by Holly Cole and her Trio, in 1992, from her album,
Don't Smoke in Bed.

(Peggy Doyle)
Peggy Doyle, Cygnus partner, at the entrance to the gallery

      I had the pleasure last week of meeting the owners of the relatively new Cygnus Galley in LaConner. We decided to meet at the Last Chapter Bookstore on Main Street where I found Ginny Dugaw, who lived in Sedro-Woolley for a dozen years with her equally delightful husband, Dr. John Dugaw. They have lived in LaConner for several years and in Louisiana for a while. Last Chapter has a terrific small, well-chosen selection from all genres. And it rises another level higher by providing easy chairs and small tables, which is de rigueur for lazy Northwest rainy days. We've been known for having a few. And they feature paintings on the walls.
      Two of the Cygnus owners, Elizabeth Noyes and Peggy Doyle, showed me and LaConner author Tom Robinson what they have done to the former Café Culture location around the corner from the bookstore. The small wooden building with a natural shake front is just east of, and up the hill from the historic Planter Hotel on Commercial Street. It is also cata-cornered from the 1886 bank building of William E. Schricker and Laurin L. Andrews and the Magnus Anderson 1869 historic cabin beside it.
      The gallery features a collection of artists, sometime including the art of the owners; the third owner is Maggie Wilder. The show is just now changing. The owners offered their space to Arts Alive, the three day festival that begins that weekend all over town. The festival is a legacy of the late Art Hupy, who was then director and curator of La Conner's Skagit Valley Art Museum, now the Museum of Northwest Art. Back in 1985 he his friends such as Dale Chihuly, glass artist and author, and the late Angelo Pellegrini to anchor the first event that year.
      Since then, the event has blossomed to include venues at the Skagit County Historical Museum up the hill, Maple Hall, across the street from Cygnus and more than a dozen other galleries, attracting more than 2,000 guests in 2008. This year, Cygnus will host the work of five emerging artists from Nov. 6-8: Weston Lambert, Jite Agbro, Andi Shannon, Richard Nash and Jane Penman. Guests can also walk or drive up to the Museum afterwards to see the continuation of this season's show, "Paint Me a River, Art meets History."
      After the festival, until November 29, those pieces will be supplemented by work from Lisa Gilley, Maralyne Powell, Arno Zielke, Scott and Monica Bouwens and possible sculpture by an artist from the prior show, lovely wooden pieces by Peregrine O'Gormley. While there last week I was quite taken with the other artists sharing space in the prior show; Elizabeth Tapper's Print Collection and the etchings of Art Hansen are especially lovely.
      As we walked through I remembered a comment I had heard from gallery watchers in both San Francisco and Seattle: this bottomed-out economy is providing some real value for the dollar in galleries large and small. We will tell you more about Cygnus soon. For now, think of that most intriguing constellation in the northern heavens that is named Cygnus, which is derived from the Latinized Hellenic word for swan. If you are mythologically inclined that day, you may see Zeus walking through the door, disguised as a swan on his way to seduce Leda in one of the prime and most amusing Grecian legends. But that's for another historical tour of the light fantastic.
      Cygnus is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 5 p.m. Some of you may remember the gallery under its original name, Gallery 109. And, oh by the way, the trumpeter swans — Cygnus buccinators — could return to their favorite Skagit County marshlands, by the thousands, tomorrow morning or the next one. Welcome, you symbols of youth and beauty and delicacy, we salute you and miss you so much when you venture away.

Hunter's Moon: run, ye critters

Listening to:
And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

"Blue Moon," as in the English idiom, "once in a blue moon," which means "very rarely." Written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart in 1934, it has become a standard ballad; it is the only one of their hits not written for a show or a movie. First recorded in January 1934 by Columbia, the song is performed in this video by Ella Fitzgerald in 1956, from her album, Rodgers and Hart Songbook

      About this time of the year someone somewhere, including sometimes our dear readers, asks me again what the difference is between a harvest moon and a full moon. Down to basics, BBC describes it succinctly : The full moon which lies closest to the autumn equinox is known as the Harvest Moon. The Farmers Almanac describes harvest moon, thusly:
Full Moon Names and Their Meanings
(bullet) Full Corn Moon — September — This full moon's name is attributed to Native Americans because it marked when corn was supposed to be harvested. Most often, the September full moon is actually the Harvest Moon.
(bullet) Full Harvest Moon — October — This is the full Moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. In two years out of three, the Harvest Moon comes in September, but in some years it occurs in October. At the peak of harvest, farmers can work late into the night by the light of this Moon. Usually the full Moon rises an average of 50 minutes later each night, but for the few nights around the Harvest Moon, the Moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night: just 25 to 30 minutes later across the U.S., and only 10 to 20 minutes later for much of Canada and Europe. Corn, pumpkins, squash, beans, and wild rice the chief Indian staples are now ready for gathering.
(bullet) Full Beaver Moon — November — This was the time to set beaver traps before the swamps froze, to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Another interpretation suggests that the name Full Beaver Moon comes from the fact that the beavers are now actively preparing for winter. It is sometimes also referred to as the Frosty Moon.

      But this is one time when the Farmer's does not conform to or explain in simple terms some of the information I heard as a child from very observant hunters and farmers while I grew up in the Utopia District, five miles east of Sedro. There we learned that the Harvest Moon is indeed the full moon closest to the Autumnal Equinox, a favorite moon of farmers who worked through the night under the light of the full moon to harvest grain and vegetables. It may occur in either September or October. Sometimes a second full moon appears in the calendar month of October and it is called a Hunter's Moon, valued again for its light because the critters have only stubble to hide behind.
      But when does the Blue Moon occur? For sixty years most everyone has confused a blue moon as being the second full moon in any month. But the moon that is blue is the third moon in any quarter or season that includes four full months. For instance, in 2009 the Blue Moon will occur on December 2, the third full moon, with the fourth such moon showing on December 31. In 2012: August 2, August 31; and in 2015: July 2, July 31. As an National Public Radio report explained:

      Kelly Beatty, editor of Night Sky magazine and executive editor of Sky and Telescope, tells Robert Siegel that a blue moon actually refers to the phenomenon of having four full moons in a season, which ordinarily has three.
      Beatty also acknowledged that his magazine had a hand in giving the misconception credence. Sky and Telescope magazine recently put out a press release explaining its role in perpetuating the myth. It read, in part: "Our 1946 writer, amateur astronomer James Hugh Pruett (1886-1955), made an incorrect assumption about how the term had been used in the Maine Farmers' Almanac, where it consistently referred to the third full moon in a three-month season containing four. (By this definition there is no blue moon in May or June 2007, and the next one happens in May 2008.)

Trumpeter Swans return with a flourish
Moved to Nov. 22

(Swans 3)
Swan display, courtesy of A. Fredrickson

(Robert Sund)
Robert Sund, 1965, courtesy of this beautifully biography in Poet's House Trust, a terrific resource.

Robert Sund and the Ish rivers
      As we wait for our friends, the swans, we remember again the poem that makes our hearts sing, the one by the late Robert Sund, who died in Anacortes in 2001. He was like the swans in many ways, for his grace and his poems and his beautiful music on autoharp.
      One of his lifelines, a vein that circulated the blood that his body, brain and heart needed the most, was the image of the Snow Goose and Trumpeter swan, subjects of several of his poems and meditations. Centuries ago, these swans and their Tundra brother-species were ubiquitous all over the river valleys of the United States. But the approach of concrete and toxic things have narrowed the feeding and breeding grounds to the point that the Skagit River Valley is the last place where they can be seen in great profusion, dancing vertically, chatting over the tops of cat-tails, and scatting as if Dexter Gordon were playing his saxophone or Chet Baker his trumpet in the center of their snow-white circle, once in November and then back in January through March for one more curtain call.

Ish River
Like breath, like mist rising from a hillside.
Duwamish, Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Samish, Skokomish, Skykomish . . . all the ish rivers.
I live in Ish River country between two mountain ranges where many rivers run down to an inland sea.
    — Robert Sund

      We miss you, Robert:

      Life is Good.

Journal for Sept. 27-Oct. 24, 2009
Recorded Sept. 28, 2009 (updated Oct. 3)
    Chapter Five

This week"s features
Tusko, naming Sedro-Woolley; & more, Oct. 2 History Show Lyman Challenge contest for students Silent Auction for Museum Oct. 3
Edison Eye Art Gallery opening Oct. 3 Late night espresso in Woolley Gary B's Motorcyle Run
& Just Moe's Steak & Spirits

J. Charles Band in Woolley Sturgis Motorcyle Rally & Rocky Raccoon
Under construction, more items added later this week
Ghost Ladies of the evening at Concrete's Ghost Walk October

(Tusko and Circus Poster)

Listening to:
Everybody loves my baby
but my baby don't
love nobody but me
nobody but me
Yes, everybody wants my baby
but my baby don't
want nobody but me
that's plain to see!

Skat is where it's at, Jack. From "Everybody loves my baby," as performed by the Boswell Sisters, 1932 , lyrics by Spencer Williams. Doris Day warbles a fine version, too.

Tusko, naming Sedro-Woolley and lots more
Oct. 2, Sedro-Woolley Senior Center History Show

      Updated Oct. 4: Thank you all for attending. We had a nice turnout of 35 people and some great memories shared. Creekside retirement home inquired if we could do a similar show for them and we are following up on that. We enjoy giving such presentations to schools, groups, clubs and homes like that. Someone else inquired if we would put on a similar show with historic photos at the Sedro-Woolley Community Center and do it on a Saturday so that people who normally work on weekdays can attend. We answered that we look forward to such a show. We are just looking for a local club to sponsor it and help with the publicity. Please email if your club would like to consider it.

Silent Auction Oct. 3 for Sedro-Woolley Museum
      Updated Oct. 4: Although I was not able to attend, a friend reported a number of cars in front of the community center for this important fund-raising event for the museum and someone else commented on the fine music presented, so we hope the event went well.

Students need to sign up soon
for Lyman History Challenge

      Students should be signing up over the next week, either at their Sedro-Woolley or Lyman school office, or online at this Journal site. Governor Christine Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed urge students to compete in three age categories and three classes of competition: essays, art (painting, diorama, sculpture etc.) or costumes based on clothing of the 1880s and '90s. See the Journal site for details and resources

Edison Eye art gallery opening
      Dana and Toni Rust invite you to join them from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009, at the opening of the first-ever fine craft show. The show features work by David Balkesley, Patty Detzer, Irene Embrey, Barbara Hathaway, Dorothy McGuinness, Natalie Olsen, Sue Roberts, R. Leon Russell and then more craftspeople. Call (360) 766-6276 for details or email to

Late night coffee and conversation at A Cup Above in downtown Woolley
      The owner of A Cup Above coffee shop at 905 Metcalf Street is experimenting with special hours from 12 a.m. to 2:30 a.m., Friday and Saturday nights. Many of us have talked for several years about a place for people to gather after seeking entertainment and amusement downtown. Thus far, getting the word out has been tough sledding, so please pass this information along to friends. It is a good idea that deserves wide consideration.

Listening to:
Oh, Susie Q, oh, Susie Q,
Oh, Susie Q, baby I love you, Susie Q.
I like the way you walk, I like the way you talk;
I like the way you walk, I like the way you talk, Susie Q.
Well, say that youll be true, well, say that youll be true,
Well, say that youll be true, and never leave me blue, Susie Q.

"Susie Q" song by Dale Hawkins, 1956, as performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival. This great song was covered by CCR, The Rolling Stones, The Namelosers, Uncle Tupelo, Gene Summers and about every lounge lizard you ever heard. But it is fine enough that the song itself transcends all amateur attempts and is magical when played by people like the J Charles Band

Gary B's Motorcycle Run, hot blues and
fellowship and Just Moe's Steak & Spirits

      When I was riding back on my bicycle from the gym Saturday evening, I was curious about the line of 20 or 30 motorcycles parked on the 700 block of Metcalf Street in Sedro-Woolley. The riders appeared to be flowing in and out of Moe's Steak & Spirits on the east side of the street, in the former longtime location of Ostrom's Sporting Goods.
      Some of you will recall Michelle "Moe" Keenan-Anderson, who owned the Castle Tavern across the street for many years; that is now Dusty's Tavern. Moe has been in business for about a year now in this location and she is determined to be known for both her extensive food offerings as well as first-class music. This latest motorcycle run highlighted both and caused quite a stir on Metcalf Street that night as well as on Sundays when the band associated with the run leads a jam session that begins at 3 p.m.
      The first thing I noticed was that this is not a page out of Hunter Thompson. Nor was it Altamont, with people being beaten over the head with pool cues. These were people just plain having fun and enjoying the fellowship of the road. Most were in full leathers and many were advanced in years; I felt right at home as a senior citizen. Since the event was called Gary B's 14th Annual Run, I sought him out and learned that he goes only by Gary B:
    How did this event get started?
    "Fourteen years ago at my house, near the old abandoned school on Pleasant Ridge, I invited my riding friends for a party beginning on a Thursday, BYO Beer and BBQ, and they came from as far away as Portland and Spokane and didn"t leave for a week."
    What brought you to Moe's?
    "We wanted a larger place where there was a bar and where we could perform with the band. This is our second year here and the event has evolved to benefit kids. Last year we had a Thanksgiving Jam. We buy school outfits for kids and fill up bas of school supplies for those who need it. After Moe opened up, we had an Oyster Run here and she was enthusiastic, saying "Gary this is your new house." The mayor, Mike Anderson, believed in what we are doing and blocked off the parking for as many as 60-70 bikes. We feel right at home here.
    You're on crutches. How did that happen?
    "I did a header on my motorcycle, '03 Harley Davidson Ultra-Classic, right in front of my house. The throttle stuck. So they put in some pins and I'm recuperating. But I'm still playing drums, as I do for a living.".

Listening to:
It's been a long time coming
It's going to be a long time gone
And it appears to be a long
Appears to be a long
Appears to be a long time
It's a long, long, long, long time
Before the dawn

From "Long Time Coming," by David Crosby, Stephen Stills, & Graham Nash, circa 1969 on their eponymous first album on Atlantic Records

J. Charles Band
      So that took us to the band, which we already enjoyed immensely. They play blues, America"s gift to the world. Lead guitar, bass, drums and percussion/congas. We talked to the leader, who is no spring chicken himself. Jeff is not quite as long in the tooth as I am, but he plays with the same intensity as players much younger, like Nick Vigarino, for instance. He knocked us out with a version of Susie Q that would have made the Creedence Clearwater Revival tap their toes. Jeff Charles plays lead guitar and sings the vocals: He looks very distinctive in his Harris Tweed English Cap, like he could have come fresh from a shoot on the moors, but his long hair, abundant facial hair and calloused fingers spell guitarist. He doesn"t sing sweet; he sings deep and gutsy but the result can be sweet sometimes.
    How and when did you form the band?
    "It began about 3 1/2 years ago with this lineup."
    When did you first start playing?
    "I picked up a guitar when the Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and most people remember when that was [Feb. 9, 1964 if you don't]. Born in Georgia, I grew up in Florida and I got tired of the heat and cockroaches. In '94 I drove my 1964 Ford Pickup to the Northwest after seeing a job listed in a Florida newspaper in the Orlando library. I worked in architechture, with software; my dad was engineer as well as my granddad and I attended Florida Technical University."
    Where did you first start playing up here?
    After playing all over in Florida, I played in bands in Monroe and Sultan while I was living there. Then I got flooded out while living on a slough of the Snohomish River. I came to the Skagit Valley in about 2000. Serendipity brought me here.
    I know Miss Seren Dippity well. Besides her, who influenced you the most?
    Johnny Winters, BB King. I listened to all the great ones before having a style of my own. Gary B's Church of the Blues is a natural for me.
    Readers will want to know if you have recorded.
    No, but we are working on it. I'm living in Anacortes now and we perform here at Moe's every Sunday afternoon with an open-mike jam.

Riders in the Badlands: the Sturgis Rally
(Buffalo Chip)
Buffalo Chip Tent-ground

      I saw one head above them all that evening. Pat Coffey naturally stands out like that. He is around 6-foot-6 and his head is shaved bald above a kindly face sporting a braided six-inch-long goatee. He wore leathers and a black t-shirt with reverse white lettering heralding the Sturgis Tour 2009, so he was a natural to be interviewed in the crowd. The first Sturgis Motorcycle Rally was held in that small town in South Dakota on Aug. 14, 1938 as the "Black Hills Classic", by the Jackpine Gypsies motorcycle club, who still own and operate the tracks, hillclimb, and field areas where the rally is centered. The rally attracts a half million people annually, almost as many people that live in the state.
    Was 2009 your first ride to Sturgis?
    No, this was my fourth time. I started in 2005 when I road by '01 Heritage Motorcycle.
    With a half million people there, where did you hang out?
    "At the Buffalo Chip, an old cow pasture about five miles out of town, music by Toby Keith, Journey, James Gang, Joe Walsh, ZZ Top, Aerosmith."
    When did you first start riding?
    I first rode in '05 when my son graduated, dir bikes at first, smaller bikes. Three of us rode back this time, I was on an '05 Harley, through Glacier and Lewiston. Many pit stops on the way.
    Where do you live?
    I am back living in Omak, my home area, now; I graduated from there in '68. But I lived in Sedro-Woolley for a couple of years. I was divorced in 2000 and bought a place on Whidbey. But I worked for the City of Anacortes, got hurt when I was log-cutter and got hit by a tree in '86.
    How much do you figure the trip cost?
    About $2,600 overall and 20-25 t-shirts. I'd ride clear to Daytona if I could.
    Have the years caught up with you?
    Yes and No. This was a rough ride with my injury acting up. But I wouldn't have missed it. I was at camp for nine days. Last year was a treat because my brother turned 60. I met people there from Montana, Iowa and Oklahoma. There were no fights. I met Hell's Angels and looked them in the eyes. People got along. The weather wasn't as good this year, with the lightning and the Great Plains Winds [and a hailstorm].

Listening to:
Now somewhere in the black mining hills of Dakota
There lived a young boy named Rocky Raccoon
And one day his woman ran off with another guy
Hit young Rocky in the eye Rocky didn't like that
He said I'm gonna get that boy
So one day he walked into town
Booked himself a room in the local saloon.

"Rocky Raccoon," lyrics by Paul McCartney and maybe George Harrison in 1968, as performed by the Beatles on what we who are long in the tooth call the Beatles" White Album.

Rocky and Donald Malidore
      And then I met Donald Malidore, a welder who moved to Sedro-Woolley a few years ago and told me all about the Limited Hydroplane, Rocky, that he has parked in his garage on Third Street in Sedro-Woolley. Named for Rocky the Goat symbol of Great Northern, last raced in the '70s and Don is restoring it. And he is out of work at the moment; need an experienced welder? But Don and Rocky are another story for another time.

Listening to the rest of the lyrics:
Rocky Raccoon checked into his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
Rocky had come equipped with a gun
To shoot off the legs of his rival
His rival it seems had broken his dreams
By stealing the girl of his fancy.

Her name was Magil and she called herself Lil
But everyone knew her as Nancy.
Now she and her man who called himself Dan
Were in the next room at the hoedown
Rocky burst in and grinning a grin
He said Danny boy this is a showdown
But Daniel was hot-he drew first and shot
And Rocky collapsed in the corner.

The doctor came in stinking of gin
And proceeded to lie on the table
He said Rocky you met your match
And Rocky said, Doc it's only a scratch
And I'll be better I'll be better doc as soon as I am able.

Now Rocky Raccoon he fell back in his room
Only to find Gideon's bible
A Gideon checked out and he left it no doubt
To help with good Rocky's revival.

Rocky Redux
      Back when the world threatened to spin off its course, in those wild and roaring '60s, this was a song that many of us hummed, whistled or sang as an antidote to the blues that many felt as they watched the daily news from Vietnam. I remember going with a friend to visit the grade-school class she was teaching and the kids broke into this song . on cue when I entered the room.
      You may have heard of the famous "Paul is dead!" rumor that broke out in a very big way in September and October 1969. It was a laughable piece of fluff, but like the viral emails of today, it swept cross-country like wildfire, even before the web and Internet were a-twinkling in Vint Cerf's and Tim Berners-Lee's eyes. By Christmas, those on college campuses who swore by the rumors and combed album covers with magnifying glass and played records backwards had largely blushed and admitted they were conned. The linked article explains that the rumor probably began at Drake University in Iowa, not Canada, as we originally presumed.
      I say we because a fellow part-time DJ in Bellingham and I heard the rumor by short-wave sometime in late September or early October and we broke the "news" (with accompanying peals of laughter) for the town at the station we were working at then, KBFW (long defunct) in the penthouse of the Bellingham Towers. That was not the only rumor about the Beatles then. They were starting to get hip to the fact that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, their guru, was better known by his vernacular nickname, "Give me the money in cash before you leave the compound." And then there was the sexual frenzy that erupted after George Harrison and Eric Clapton became friends and then Clapton became very friendly with Harrison's wife, Pattie. Before that was over, Clapton also lived with Pattie's sister, then married Pattie. Wow, a cosmic afternoon delight and then some. At least we got "Layla," which Clapton penned in adulation of Pattie, so the farce was all worth it. And George and Paul had a lot of fun writing Rocky the Raccoon. Enjoy it at the link if you have not heard it before.
      P.S.: does anyone know the whereabouts of Jim Speck, our dear old friend who put KBFW on the map even thought the format was not his cup of tea? He and his first wife Susan were dear friends. I last saw him a block away from the ocean in Venice, ogling the bikinied roller skaters in 1973 and marveling over his van, which was tricked out to efficiently house all the tools and accoutrement of the auteur film photographer. I last shared a libation with them in 1972 at Henry Africa's (Norman Hobday) fern bar on Van Ness Avenue in The City. Truly one of the wittiest men I ever met and Susan was smasherooo. Miss you both madly.

(Carrie Thompson Cole 1924)
Carrie Thompson Cole, 1924; photo courtesy of Paul Enge

Ghost Ladies of the evening will amuse
guests at Concrete's Ghost Walk October

      Valerie Stafford and the Concrete Chamber of Commerce literally put Concrete on the map three years ago (re: creative events that brought visitors to town) by inventing the "ghost walk" by historical characters, in period costume, across the Thompson concrete bridge on the weekends leading up to Halloween. Hundreds of people turn out and literally a good time is had by all. Ladies of the evening will amuse guests at Concrete's Ghost Walk Oct. 3-24.
      This year the Chamber asked us historians for characters who should be added. I enthusiastically suggested Fred and Carrie Cole. Carrie bore 14 children but still found time to be a madam in one of Concrete's ubiquitous brothels that ringed the Superior Portland plant and downtown. She finally refused to have any more kids and divorced Fred. A sheriff at the time, Fred pined for Carrie and would stand on tiptoe for a long time outside her window as she performed for customers. So we were pleased to get this note from Valerie this week.

      You'll be pleased to know that YES, we do have a Lady of the Night making an appearance in the Ghost Walk — Patti McLucas is playing the part of Carrie Thompson Cole! And thanks to your reference — and great info online — about Fred Cole, he will also be joining the cast of characters this year. Don Payne has agreed to play Fred. The spirit of Chuck Dwelley is also joining us this year, in the form of new Concrete Herald editor Jason Miller. It should be a really great time — starting this Saturday night!
      We could not be more pleased and we urge you to attend. Read more details about how you and your family can participate and view the Walk at the Concrete Chamber of Commerce link The event is co-sponsored by the Concrete Heritage Museum. And if your kids participate in period costumes, suggest to them that they apply for the Lyman History Challenge contest now and then wear their period costume to the Centennial/Time Capsule celebration at the Minkler Mansion in Lyman from 10-3, Saturday, Oct. 24, and win one of the many prizes awarded that day.
      Autumn sneaks in on leaves of orange and red. Concrete shows us once more that: .
      Life is Good.

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Through the unknown, unremembered gate
When the last of earth left to discover
Is that which was the beginning;

"Little Gidding," by T.S. Eliot, Number 4 of the Four Quartets, 1942

View My Guestbook
Sign My Guestbook

Journal for Sept. 6-26
Recorded Sept. 6, 2009
    Chapter Four

Lyman Challenge contest for students The Amazing Thomas Pier Hastie New temporary hill rises
in Skagit River
after 1903 earthquake

Jim Harris memorial Train Wreck in Burlington
equals fine beer, beer
garden and historic location
Happy Holiday to you all

Listening to:
Did you say that I"ve got a lot to learn
Well don"t think I"m trying not to learn
Since this is the perfect spot to learn
Teach me tonight

Starting with the ABC of it
Getting right down to the XYZ of it
Help me solve the mystery of it
Teach me tonight

The sky"s a blackboard high above you
And if a shooting star goes by
I"ll use that star to write "I love you
" A thousand times across the sky

"Teach Me Tonight," music by Gene De Paul,
lyrics by Sammy Cahn, performed by The DeCastro Sisters, 1954

Lyman Challenge contest for
students in September 2009

(Party at mansion)
A birthday party on the steps of the mansion in about 1905, probably for Minkler children and their playmates. Click on the photo for a version of what the mansion looks like today. Photo courtesy of the Meyers family collection.

      We urge parents and grandmothers to encourage their children and other descendants to take the challenge that the Lyman Minkler Mansion Committee has issued to students in the area. The committee is working closely with new principal Mark Nilson at Lyman elementary and the principals and teachers at the Sedro-Woolley schools to distribute rules and entry forms. Students need to sign up within the next two weeks and then submit an essay or art work about what history means to their lives, by Oct. 10. As an option, students can dress in the costume of the period &mdash 1880s or 1890s, either as individuals, groups or as entire class, and their costumes will be judged the day that the prizes awarded. The contest is part of the restoration of the Minkler Mansion (1891) and transforming it into Lyman City Hall and a center for upriver services. On Oct. 24, contestants will be awarded prizes, they and their family can tour the mansion and each student can leave some historical item in a time capsule during the special Lyman Centennial II celebration from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. You can read more details here and you will find a required entry form with rules and details for the competition. And you can read more about the Minkler mansion and its namesake, Birdsey Minkler, who may well have been the most important early upriver pioneer.

Listening to:
The Wayward Wind is a restless wind,
a restless wind that yearns to wander,
and he was born the next of kin,
the next of kin to the Wayward Wind

In a lonely shack by a railroad track
He spent his younger days
And I guess the sound of the outward-bound
Made him a slave to his wand"rin ways

"The Wayward Wind," by Stan Lebowsky and Herb Newman, performed by Gogi Grant, 1956

Thomas Pier Hastie ran barefoot across America
in 1850 on the way to Whidbey Island & the Skagit

(Thomas P. Hastie)
      I met the lovely "Aunt Pattie Johnson" at her assisted living home in West Seattle and over lunch I realized why her relatives wrote after seeing the original Journal feature about Thomas P. Hastie and told us that she and her sister were the eldest of their generation and that Pattie had a ton of material about the whole Hastie family along with a terrific memory. She was born here and has been keeping her eyes and ears open for nearly nine decades now. This advance note is just to let you know that our original Hastie stories can be accessed at this link, in case you would like to read about this amazing man and his progeny or, even better yet, maybe you are a descendent of the family or have your own family information that can correct or add to the original profiles of both Mr. Hastie and his daughter-in-law, Nora See Hastie. We will post a whole new extensive section on the extended family in the upcoming Issue 51 of to our optional Subscribers-Paid Journal magazine online in October.

(Union Hotel, Edison)
      Reader John Ruthford, who gained fame for reproducing the lantern show slides of the 1914 Sedro-Woolley Bank Robbery, found this wonderful photo of the Union Hotel in Edison, circa the year it was built: 1887. He explained that he obtained the original at Hewitt's Trading Post years ago, across the Minkler Highway from the old Oasis Tavern, where my mother often said, our car was known to pull in of its own accord once a week, after my dad headed home from his day shift at the greenhouse at Northern State Hospital.
      As we know from our Journal transcription of the 1906 Illustrated History of Skagit and Snohomish Counties, Tom Cain, the saloon owner, built the Union back when Edison was a very important entry point to the mainland of Skagit County, back when Dan Dingwall and the Blanchard brothers and others were clearing Bow Hill of trees for a hungry San Francisco and Seattle market.
      John is also convinced that the two people in the wagon are Prairie-area brother and sister Edward J. and Nel Canavan, whom he also identified from the Journal . Folks from that region then followed the old path and wagon tracks that John Warner's wagon made on trips back and forth from Prairie to Samish Island for shopping and freight, rather than heading south or Sedro, still just a small dot on the map.

"I tried to tell her how if you could not accept the past and its burden there was no future, for without one there cannot be the other, and how if you could accept the past you might hope for the future, for only out of the past can you make the future." Robert Penn Warren, All the King's Men, 1949, Pulitzer Prize.

New temporary hill rises in Nooksack
River after 1903 eruption, possible earthquake

      Over the past ten years, an "orphan" newspaper clipping keeps popping up every time I conduct a spring cleaning. Sure enough I just found it again, so this time I have to get to the bottom of it, even though it appears right now to be untraceable after initial research. Let's call it the mystery eruption story of 1903 or maybe 1900.
      Here is the clipping, with handwriting above it reading "1903." I don't know who wrote that, how or when I received it or if the writer really knew or just guessed as to the year. The context and placement in the middle of the page (thus no page number or date) gives no clue:

      An eruption of the earth occurred a short time ago on the south fork of the Nooksack river, just across the hills north of Hamilton. A terrific jar of the earth was felt at midnight by the the residents of that locality who thought it was an earthquake shock.
      Investigation has since disclosed the fact that a small mountain had risen in the bed of the river. The mound is conical in shape, about 100 feet high and 1,900 feet across the base. the odors of gas and sulphur are said to be quite perceptible in the vicinity of the upheaval.
      The river has been swerved around about half a mile outside of its regular channel. It is said that a geologist from Seattle has been examining this peculiar freak of nature, and claims that the eruption was due to the formation of gas from the millions of tons of coal which lie beneath the surface in this part of the country.

      So that is it. This is the reason that editors teach their charges to always keep the "H's" rule in mind even when writing a brief item of just three grafs; at least slip in a date. I hope one of you hears a bell ringing in your head, a bell-hint of when the date would have been. Meanwhile, I consulted all the texts and websites I could find and discovered no such quake/eruption in 1903. The nearest possibility is from 1903 and details of it come from this website, where you will find two brief stories, both identical:

Mount Baker Active
The Evening Times, Washington, D.C., April 7, 1900
Mount Baker, 1900 The Supposedly Dead Volcano Has an Eruption.
Upheaval in Cascade Range
New York Times, April 7, 1900
Asserted that Mount Baker, 110 Miles from Seattle, Is in Eruption

      Returning trappers and miners from the vicinity of Mount Baker, 110 miles from here in the Cascade Range, report a tremendous upheaval of earth and rocks ten miles west of the snow-capped peak, March 27. The report bears every evidence of accuracy and reliability.
      H.C. Banning and D.P. Simons, the latter a well-known mining man, of this city, visited the scene of the eruption. They declare it a genuine eruption, with evidences the Mount Baker is likely to burst out anew as a volcano. Great fissures were opened in the earth, and in the valley of the Nooksack, a big mountain stream, a huge mound of earth, seventy feet high and a quarter of a mile long, was raised across the valley. The stream was dammed and rose to a considerable height, forming a lake before breaking through. The earth trembled and there was a rumbling noise lasting several minutes. There is great excitement among the ranchers of the district.

      So, dear reader, please take it from there if you can and choose to do so. Can you verify either year for the orphan, year-less original news item? Can you provide some context? Can you explain the phenomenon and the aftermath of it? I met a fascinating volcanologist briefly at Jim Harris's memorial, who is here digging around to find evidence of the eruption of 1843, what some call the "mother of all Mount Baker eruptions," at least those that have occurred since the very early French trappers, various sailors or the Catholic priests spent enough time in the region to notice and record such phenomena. This story will continue.

Jim Harris memorial
(Jim Harris)
      On Aug. 16 well more than a hundred friends and family congregated at the Tom Porter Cabin (1887) at Rockport to celebrate the life of Jim Harris, long-time ranger, educator and good neighbor. You can read his obituary at. Because of his importance as a historical and nature educator, and because of our friendship and respect for him, we are assembling a collection of memories of Jim's work. Would you like to add a brief memory? Do you have photos of Jim and his work as an interpretive specialist? Please email us. Thank you for your help.
      [Photo of Jim courtesy of B. Drummond in a great memorial article on the Chattermarks blog of North Cascades Institute, one of the many places where Jim entertained and informed those who wanted to learn the true character of the outdoors in the North Cascades.]

(Benson's Roadhouse)
      Sherm and Jimmie Benson's Roadhouse restaurant, tavern and garage, in Rockport on the bluff above today"s Howard Miller Steelhead Park, just east of the old terminus of the Seattle & Northern Railroad.

Listening to:
A land of bluebirds and fountains and nothing to do
But cling to an angel that looks like you
And when you hold me How warm you are
Be mine my darling and spend your life with me in Shangri-la
For anywhere you are is Shangri-la

"Shangri La," the word derives from
the 1933 novel by James Hilton, Lost Horizon, lyrics and words by
Carl Sigman, Matt Malneck, and Robert Maxwell, 1964,
performed by The Lettermen, 1969

Train Wreck in Burlington equals
fine beer, beer garden and historic location

      Is a Train Wreck equivalent to Shangri-La? Well, here is how it goes. In summertime, in fact from May to October, I prefer to drink my libation in a beer garden as opposed to inside a bar. And Shangri-La is synonymous with the Garden of Eden in popular culture, so you see where I'm going.
      My three favorite beer gardens are the Overflow bar in Sedro-Woolley, Evelyn's in Clearlake and the Train Wreck bar, just east of the Great Northern north-south tracks and sitting on the north side of Fairhaven Street in Burlington. I like the Overflow because the owners made a brilliant move a few years ago when they realized that they were mistaken, as they used the area in back of their Ferry Street building for parking, when it was well suited for four or five tables of people who don't want to sit inside on a nice day, especially a very hot sunny day. I've spent many happy hours there, most of that time reading, because people generally leave you alone out there. Evelyn's beer garden is huge, the largest of all of them, and it has an added attraction, horseshoe pits, which is a real plus. I daresay that a hundred people could mill and quaff in comfort out there in back, almost next to where the original Lewis brothers' mill stood.
      The Train Wreck is most unusual. First of all, no one gave it anywhere beyond a snowball's chance in hell of surviving during the worst recession in decades. Second, you know the rule about restaurants. Out of ten that start, eight or nine usually fade away or go broke, not long after opening. Third, it is right next to another tavern to the north of the building.
      Add to that the fact that owner Nick Crandall had not even pulled a beer engine before deciding to open the Train Wreck. "I graduated from Burlington High in 1999 and have been in the construction business since then," Nick explained over a scotch ale, with a correct foamy head and the taste of hops and a little bit of honey coming through.
      Whatever he did to launch the Train Wreck, he did it well, with a lot of help from a knowledgeable staff and a family that is firmly behind him. His grandma, Virginia Crandall, that wonderful librarian you have seen in the mornings at the Burlington Public Library for nearly 25 years now, provided the genes, a set she inherited from her mother, Jennie Mason, who owned the Hillbilly Tavern, on the corner of 2nd and Pine in downtown Mount Vernon, with her first husband. They opened it in about 1935-36, not long after the Repeal of the 18th Amendment, when happy days were indeed here again. After owning it through the early World War II years, she also managed, then bought a tavern up near Bristol Bay, Alaska, which catered to fishermen. She must have been one tough cookie at the bar. Nick is pretty much the opposite, very friendly, remembers his customers' names, but runs a pretty tight ship.
      You notice the floor right off, old wood, probably fir, which shows a lot of wear and tear. Nick's dad, Casey Crandall, and his mother, Leslie, put a lot of elbow grease in on those floors, the walls and the ceilings. Casey, who owns a car lot on the highway east of town, described how many days were spent scraping layers and layers of linoleum. "At places there were up to seven layers," Casey said with a chuckle.
      One of the first things I noticed when I visited the place for the first time is the patterned brickwork. Now, it looks artistic; a year ago it looked like disaster. After humming right along with the total gutting and remodel of the building, an inspector came by and concluded that the building was not up to code for a commercial establishment.

(Interior Train Wreck)
      This was the "before" interior shot of the Train Wreck in the middle of the gutting before Nick and his crew transformed the ugly duckling into, well, a swan. We will post the "after" shot on Tuesday.

      "By then I had spent most of what I had saved for the business," Nick explained. But one doesn't live in a town like Burlington for decades without having a network of people with needed vocations and avocations. In this case they called in a retired contractor who knew brick and he determined how to replace mortar, sandblast and seal up the building. It worked like charm. The ceiling, meanwhile is almost techno, with exposed ventilation pipes and conduits, all painted dark, which makes them recede once the lights go down for any of the musical or comedy acts that Nick books. Yes, it is a night club, too. And did we mention that it has a restaurant behind the bar that serves everything from soups and salads for lunch to sandwiches and light entrees for dinner? And a small but very potable wine list to go with the entrees
      The building is certainly historic, standing within a stone's throw of where the original Burlington railroad depot stood to the south across the street back in 1890 at the crook of two lines. We tracked down a 1909 Sanborn fire insurance map from 1909 and we discovered that the long skinny building housed a drug store that year, so it is at least 100 years old. The substantial two-story Knudson's Building used to stand across the street to the east but that one has succumbed to history.
      Nick showed me the original incarnation of the tavern. In a photo that Virginia recalls being taken in 1939, she is dressed in her marching band uniform in a parade headed west on Fairhaven Avenue in front of what was then Murph's Tavern, also opened right after Prohibition was repealed. Then it became Joe's until the 1970s when Gene Leonard, "Gentlemen Gene"s in Mount Vernon, bought it. After Gene moved his tavern north a half block, the building then went through a few owners and renters, including a sewing and vacuum shop.
      You might also enjoy the historic photos that ring around all the walls, including this reproduction here of the Tourist Shop Tavern and Roadhouse in Rockport and the garage next door, which was owned by Nick's paternal great-grandmother, Jimmie, and her second husband, Sherm Benson. The garage is long gone but was a very handy appendage back in the 1930s when people were driving about in the mountains, close by their homes, rather than taking expensive far-flung vacations, which were rare in the Depression years. The roadhouse has been closed as often as open in the past couple of decades, but when it is operated by an attentive mom and pop couple it can be a charming trip back through the years when bootleggers like Jess Sapp may have parked his Buick outside while arranging to fill the false auxiliary gas tank with contraband booze from a local still, while revenuers dined a few tables away
      Why do I rate the Train Wreck so highly? Mainly for the beer garden in these warm months; it is like an oasis away from the bustle of malls and Old Hwy 99. I also like the selection of craft beers on tap. And I especially like the family feeling, both nuclear and extended, that you feel there. Tables fill up at 5 p.m. as the cocktail lamp is built for a whole age range from folks in their 20s to old fogies like your editor. Family-run restaurants and saloons are always best, except of course for that bar I managed in Rock Springs, Wyoming, in 1972 where the mom of the dual owners stole the 20s out of the till at different times every night
      Don't forget: put a smile on your face as soon as your eyes are open wide in the morning. Life is Good.

Journal for Aug. 23-Sept. 5
Recorded Aug. 23, 2009
    Chapter Three

Charles Wilkes explores Puget Sound 1841, a new book Will LaConner continue to be Turkeytopia?
Julie and Julia, the movie Jim Harris memorial
Moved to Sept. 6

Lyman Challenge contest for students
Moved to Sept. 6

My friend Deano

Charles Wilkes explores Puget Sound, 1841, a new book
(Wilkes book cover)
      I just began reading this terrific new book, Charles Wilkes and the Exploration of Inland Washington Waters (2009) by Dick Blumenthal and it is enthralling. I have always thought that Wilkes deserved his own major namesake Washington geographic name, since he was after all the first man to chart some of our most prominent points. Wilkes (1798-1877) was the nephew of the Lord Mayor of London John Wilkes. An American, he was born in New York City, became a midshipman in the U.S. Navy in 1818 and in 1838, even though he was a junior lieutenant, he was assigned to lead the U.S. Exploring Expedition (five ships), which would sail round the world for four years, exploring and mapping from the South Seas to the Northwest and the West Coast of the United States, before returning to New York City in 1842
      He was not afraid of controversy and he was known to be quarrelsome; in fact, he is often described as a martinet for his overly strict manner. He was court-martialed because of disciplinary incidents while mapping the Columbia River, but he was acquitted on two counts and convicted on one, improper punishment of several sailors on the expedition. Regardless, he was promoted to commander in 1843 and to captain in 1855, and compiled a five-volume Journal as well as acting as the Navy's expert on charts. His work on Puget Sound has long been considered one of the most important of early events here and this detailed and well-footnoted book will flesh out even more details.
      Wilkes stepped into it again during the Civil War and achieved even more renown when, on Nov. 8, 1861, he commanded the S.S. Jacinto in the Caribbean and boarded the British mail-steamboat, Trent and arrested John Slidell and James Mason, who were en route to England as envoys from the Confederacy. The incident became known as the Trent Affair. Such a boarding violated international law and it angered the British but pleased the North. Even though he was given subsequent commands, he was recalled in 1863 for a court martial after a raging conflict with Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, and a year later he was convicted and sentenced to a public reprimand and three year's suspension for insubordination and disobedience of orders. Although the sentence was reduced to one year, he resigned his commission in 1866.
      This is a book for all kinds of readers, both maritime researchers and historians as well as those who sail or are curious about geographic landmarks. You can read more about it and obtain it at the publisher's website [(800) 253-2187]. It's a fun read, unusual for a book that deals with so much data. This is the third in Blumenthal's series, which included The Early Exploration of Washington's Inland Waters (six expeditions 1786-92) and With Vancouver in Washington's Inland Waters (12 Crewmen's Journals). By the way, was Wilkes Herman Melville's model for Captain Ahab in Moby Dick? The jury is still out. Here is a brief description from Blumenthal:

      For armchair historians interested in the earliest exploration of inland Washington waters, these texts bring Northwest maritime history to life. Beginning in 1786 and continuing through 1792, The Early Exploration . . . includes transcriptions of the journals and logs of our first explorers. This text follows the journey of John Meares in 1786, four expeditions by the Spanish including José Maria Narvaez, Manuel Quimper, Francisco de Eliza, and Alcala Galiano/Cayetano Valdéz and culminates with George Vancouver's detailed exploration of our inland waters in 1792.
      With Vancouver . . . continues the saga with the journals of Vancouver's men including Peter Puget, Joseph Baker, and more. These present a view of shipboard life as well as detail on additional exploration.
      These fascinating reads include the first European descriptions of Puget Sound country and the people who lived here. They also record the events and history surrounding the naming of many prominent locations in the area by Vancouver including Puget Sound, Whidbey and Vashon Islands, Hood Canal, Admiralty Inlet, Mounts Rainier and Baker, etc.
      Readers will also be fascinated by the numerous Spanish names including the Haro Strait, Port Angeles, Padilla Bay, Sucia, Matia and Patos Islands as well as many more that did not stand the test of time.

Listening to "Turkey in the straw," with lots of fiddles

(LaConner Turkeys)
For the full brochure of the LaConner Turkeys, click Pages 2-3 & Pages 4-6

Will LaConner continue
to be Turkeytopia?

      If you grew up here, did you realize that LaConner was Turkeytopia? Well it surely has been for the past few years. If you spend much time in the town by the slough you will likely observe the flock of 20 or so turkeys prancing around as if they owned the place. But that pastoral idyll may soon feature a new chapter; indeed, will there be a climax? Will the grim reaper be the mystery star? Or will we hear the ominous sound of helicopters? Let's see what the Skagit Valley Herald reports:
By Elliott Wilson
      LA CONNER — First the town had too many turkeys. Now there may not be enough to go around. Adoption offers flooded in following a Town Council decision earlier this month to reduce La Conner's feral domestic turkey flock. Residents have complained about the birds' pooping, flower chomping and rooftop roosting, but the turkeys, which are protected by the town code, are also a major tourist draw.
      "I lost sleep, personally, thinking about the ramification of removing the turkeys entirely," Mayor Ramon Hayes said Tuesday. Some contemplated killing the birds, with two councilmen advocating eliminating the whole flock earlier this month. But with word out that the flock 20 or so turkeys would be culled to seven, officials agreed Tuesday that relocation was the better option.
      Where the birds will go and when they will leave town was left undecided Tuesday, with the council agreeing that the mayor and his administration could choose what is best for the birds. One potential location, La Conner Code Enforcement Officer Bill Stokes said, is the Precious Life Animal Sanctuary in Sequim. He said the nonprofit organization has offered a one-acre netted enclosure for the birds.
      The sanctuary's Web site boasts of "views of the Straits of Juan De Fuca," and some suggested Tuesday that it might be a nice "turkey retirement home."

      Read the complete story here

Bad luck's gone on it's way
Good luck had to come back to stay
My blackbirds are bluebirds now

"My Blackbirds Are Bluebirds Now", written by Irving Caesar and Cliff Friend, 1926, performed by the late Jeff Healey (Blind Canadian guitarist, deceased in 2008 at 41), from the Broadway play Whoopee! and the movie Lucky Boy

Julie and Julia, the movie
      Thank you to Linda and Larry Dennis, who treated me to the movie, Julie and Julia, in Mount Vernon this week. What a tasty confection it is. Having met Julia Child in person, albeit briefly 20 years ago, I saw what an imposing figure she was, at 6-foot-2. You will have to see Meryl Streep in the movie to fully understand how she could take over the role. I knew I was enjoying the movie when I realized that I had stopped thinking Meryl and thought of her as Julie, just a half hour into the show.
      The plot line runs along two tracks. First there is the story of Meryl and her diplomat husband, Paul Child, as they are posted to Paris in 1949. Julia wanted something to do, did not want to be like the other wives, and she soon enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu to learn French cooking, although she hated many of the principals. On the second track, we come to this decade, specifically August 2002, when Julie Powell and her husband moved into an apartment above a pizza place in Queens and she, too, wanted something to do that would transcend her bureaucratic job and provide an outlet for what she had been trained and educated for, writing. She decided to begin a blog, to cook all 524 recipes from Julia's masterpiece, Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961) in exactly one year. For the next two hours you learn how both women achieved their goals, but way more important, you learn some intrinsic aspects of their personalities.
      I have to agree with Brooks Barnes, the New York Times reviewer (, who observed that "it is the film's depiction of marriage — particularly the union of Julia and Paul Child — that has sparked chatter among people after screenings. Several aspects of the matrimonial portrait are astonishing, at least for a Hollywood movie. For starters, there's the sex: the old married folks have it.
      "The middle-aged Julia and Paul (Stanley Tucci) are depicted, apparently accurately, as acutely libidinous. The strapping (6 foot 2) wife and her (shorter) husband have sex in the afternoon, with a cackling Julia ripping off Paul's suspenders. In another scene, they photograph themselves naked in a bubble bath and use the picture as a Valentine's Day card. 'I don't know why everybody is so surprised,' Ms. Streep said. 'I guess people don't attach sexuality to people who look like their parents.'"
      Paul and Julia were in love, having married in middle age after both were involved in various spook activities for the OSS, the predecessor for the CIA, in the World War II years. They are devoted to each other and Paul supports Julia's 12-year odyssey all over France, Europe and Cambridge, Massachusetts, until she publishes her book. Tucci is brilliant as ever; this pairing with Streep is by far more satisfying than their stereotypical characters in The Devil Wears Prada. Even a McCarthyite investigation of Paul did not phase their devotion to each other.
      Amy Adams shines again as Julie Powell, just-turned-30 blogger and wife. In ways she may have had the hardest assignment. Jill Powell is not as full of joy de vive as Julia is. Sometimes she is so self-absorbed that you want to reach out and slap her. In real life, she had an affair after the blog year. The blog idea was brilliant and both gave her the outlet and opportunity she needed and made her financially secure. But some of her self-imposed travails and those of her girlfriends seem so trivial and self-centered compared to Julia, who just honestly wanted to teach American women, who didn't have cooks, how to prepare cuisine and add rich fabric to their lives.
      Chris Messina, as Julie's husband, delivers a surprisingly strong performance versus these three heavyweights. And Jane Lynch is a scream as Julia's equally tall sister; she steals a couple of scenes. And I loved the performance of Linda Emond, who brought to life the name of Simone Beck, Child's collaborator on the big book and a fine writer in her own right. And Dan Ackroyd steals another part of the movie with his famous and brilliant portrayal androgynous Julia as she slices off her thumb while slicing chicken in a Saturday Night Live sketch on tape from 30 years ago; Julia reportedly loved it. See the movie, and husbands, don't poke your eyes out with a fondue fork to avoid going. This is one "chick movie" that you can revel watching.

Jim Harris memorial
Moved to Sept. 6

Lyman Challenge contest for
students in September 2009

Moved to Sept. 6

Courtesy of Wendy's website

An ode to my friend, Deano
      We were saddened to learn last week that our new friend, Deano, has had a physical setback over in Klickitat County. His friend, Mary Jean Risheim, took him to the doctor to determine why he is limping and she received the bad news that he has cancer of the bones. He is one of those creatures who lights up the room when he enters or announces his presence and is very much needed on their bison ranch. Having suffered from that same type of cancer, I can especially empathize with Deano and I wish him well and I hope his brother Beans watches out for him. We never have them with us long enough, nor can we match the love they have for us every time we come home. For those who have such critter friends who give us all their love and unconditionally, you will doubtless enjoy Amen, Bow Wow with Wendy Francisco.
      Thanks again for tuning in. As August continues bringing us sun and the occasions for terrific country parties like the one that Honea and Vorel threw last weekend, let's all remember: Life is Good.

(1916 Maxwell)
Lawrence Whitmore is especially proud of his 1916 "Jack
Benny" Maxwell auto in the Whoop-n-Holler Museum

Journal for Aug. 16-22
Recorded Aug. 19, 2009
    Chapter Two

(See below for Aug. 9-15, 2009, the beginning, Recorded Aug. 9, 2009)

Bickleton, Washington, Whitmores, Bluebirds, Whoop-n-Holler Museum
Oregon's 150th Birthday Sept. 17-20 The Dalles and Hood River

Woke up this morning
I looked around for my shoes
You know I had those mean old walking blues, yea
Woke up this morning I looked around for my shoes
Girl I had those mean old walking blues

Some people tell me that worried blues ain't bad
It's the worst old feeling I ever had
People tell me that worried blues ain't bad
It's the worst old feeling whoa child I ever had

"Walking Blues," by Robert Johnson, performed by
Paul Butterfield Blues Band, 1966, East West album

Bickleton, WA, the Whitmores, bluebirds
and the Whoop-n-Holler Museum
      Eric Risheim and I walked up to the tri-level farmhouse "way to hell and gone from anything" near Jasper Creek and Jasper Canyon, 11 miles south of Bickleton, 50 miles east of Goldendale in eastern Klickitat County, and about 30 miles north of the Columbia Gorge, as the bluebird flies. We were struck by the nearly century old wooden granary building, another homestead building and a row of ancient tractor equipment and road graders and snow plows, slowly rusting outside but still proudly standing in the near-100 degrees sun.
(Whitmores in their school)
Ada Ruth and Lawrence Whitmore inside the country school that they saved, complete with bell, potbelly stove, racked-wooden seats and a hug for teacher. Click to see a larger version and see how pretty Ada Ruth and Lawrence really are

      Yes, yes, I realize that I should not have teased about the Whoop-n-Holler Museum last week in the column debut. Readers have demanded to know more and to know it now, so even though we have another story planned about Bickleton and the Whitmore family, we will share some goodies with you now, especially since Ada Ruth Whitmore sent us a package of dandy photos and news stories.
      Erik was my host for the time I toured the Columbia Gorge and towns on both the Washington and Oregon side. He is the husband of Mary Jean, who was a compadre on newspapers in Woodside and Redwood City, California, and the father of Cowgirl Billie Jo. They raise Bison on a quarter-section-sized ranch southwest of Goldendale. MJ had raised my expectations when she early on suggested a trip to Bickleton, because I had heard from some of my friends, who love out of the way places, that I must go there and see the bluebirds. She also indicated the Bluebird Tavern there when I asked her where I could find the best old-fashioned burger, a vital plus mark on my survey of towns ever since the days when I edited the old International Loop Travel Guide.

(Bluebird houses)
The Whitmores lead another parade, this time with bluebird houses. On this day they were preparing some of the up to 500 such houses that they provide to be nailed to fences and that soon become home to the Western bluebird.

The story of the Bluebird Tavern and Bickleton will come later. Suffice it to say that after we polished off our deluxe cheeseburgers at the Bluebird (neither one of us braved the Bluebird Burger itself, as big as a plate), we asked for directions to the Whitmore Ranch because we had heard there was an unusual, one-of-a-kind museum there. We phoned first (everyone must) and Lawrence Whitmore told us that the museum was not open to the public any more, but he agreed to give us a tour to the museums and we soon understood the plural designation.
      Lawrence came outside and welcomed us, hopping onto a golf cart that he rides back and forth between the many scattered but well-kept buildings all over the farm. On our tour we passed the local schoolhouse that he and Ada Ruth saved after the district was consolidated, and past at least two Edsel autos behind on the slope beside an old stone cistern. Then he opened the doors to a huge barnlike metal building, which was dark inside and the hot air rushed out, nearly 120 inside. And there were the cars and pickups I had heard about. Rows of them, about 20 altogether, a car-collector's dream.
      We were amazed to see rare cars that we have only read about. There was a:

      Are you old enough to remember Jack Benny on the radio or on TV in the '50s? And his right-hand man, valet, chauffeur Rochester? Benny is arguably the funniest man there ever was. He created and played his stingy, foolish character so winningly that the whole nation began to believe that was the real Jack (or rather Benjamin Kubelsky) and my parents and all their friends repeated his oft-declared line: "But I'm only 39."
      According to, the Maxwell first "appeared" on radio in 1937 and often later on his eponymous TV comedy series. "Jack insisted that he could always get a few more miles out of his beat up jalopy. But for all of his tinkering, the car usually drove for about 15 minutes at which time the radiator boiled over, forcing Jack to wait for the engine to cool down before moving along. Jack bought the car second-hand from a dealer called the Smiling Pilgrim.
      "When the car's engine started on the radio program, the listening audience heard the rich asthmatic, wheezing and clinking mechanical sounds of an ancient automobile engine that was reluctant to start. When the car's engine started on the radio program, the listening audience heard the rich asthmatic, wheezing and clinking mechanical sounds of an ancient automobile engine that was reluctant to start. Mel Blanc (a.k.a. "the Man with a Thousand Voices"), first supplied the engine noises when the sound technician's machine failed on the air. Blanc's "P-tui, p-tui, b-lit, b-lit, p-tui" sputtering and chattering saved the skit. Jack Benny loved his impersonation of a rattletrap, coughing engine so much that he replaced the sound technicians with the talents of Mel Blanc." You can read the whole story here..
      But after research, we discovered that Lawrence sure enough had his years right in pegging his Maxwell as the Benny auto. When we dug deeper, we found in Wikipedia that "When the Jack Benny Program began appearing on television in 1950, a 1916 Maxwell Model 25 Tourer became one of the production's standard props." Meanwhile chauffeur Rochester van Jones loved firing back zingers at Jack, who enjoyed playing straight man, but then he responded with his patented, slow burn. Touching the car's shiny surface reminded me why I loved Jack Benny so much. That's why Lawrence sought it out.

1952 Chrysler Imperial. "From Aunt Hazel Whitmore, she bought new in Eugene. They had a ranch at Mohawk Valley in Oregon. I inherited. 64,000 miles, large hemi engine."

      When we finished in the auto museum — and remember, this is a private collection, not Harrah's, Lawrence led us over to the original museum that he and Ada Ruth started, filled with household goods, collectibles and the like from theirs and various farms in their area. We were especially impressed with the early Edison record players and the Victrolas. And then he took us into a huge windowless trailer or mobile container, where he showed us the results of Ada Ruth's genealogy work in the area. Shelf after shelf with the notebooks she has filled from her birth, death and marriage research, plus a whole wing full of books that most genealogists would die for.
      Finally, when he noticed that we had both just about wilted, he invited us in for a soda pop and so that we could finally meet Ada Ruth. It didn't take long for us to see how energetic she is, "a house afire" as my mother, from rural Missouri, used to put it. Every time we asked a question about the Jasper or Dot area, she had an answer, as well as questions about Klickitat County and the Gorge area in general.
      They told us that they had been married since 1947. Lawrence told us that they had settled down on the farm in about 1952, after living nearby for awhile and in Bickleton in their "honeymoon suite." They both went to school in Bickelton, graduating from high school there. They have pretty much known each other all their lives, and while different in expression, these two still love each other and share their love for history and their — one could almost say self-imposed — obligation: to record the history of their corner of the state and world, because generations of people after them will not intrinsically know the subject, as they do, deeply.
      Members of the extended family came to this dusty, dry area back in 1870. They would likely be shocked to see the 130-plus majestic windmills close by to the south. Mighty winds blow across that chapped land here on the bluff above the north shore of the Gorge, as well on the land opposite in Oregon. Lawrence's father, Del [Houston Delno] Whitmore, and his wife, Fern, expanded the original homesteads of his parents and aunts. The parents moved here in 1902, when Del was nine, and if you think the area is a bit remote now, imagine back then, when the only modes of transportation were canoe, other boats, and a horse. Neither permanent roads not railroad had arrived yet in Klickitat County.
      Del bought a tractor in Portland in 1914 for $400 and was soon the first to market bulk grain, in 1918. Years later, he bought the first self propelled combine, in 1942. When we asked him about where he got some of the autos that didn't have sales information posted with them, Lawrence chuckled and recalled: "Down there on the way to Roosevelt, you will see a Y in the road, and the one to the Gorge plunges down a thousand feet steeply. Guys would climb up here in their old cars and pickups, and then their radiators would blow on them. They didn't consider some of their cars to be worth much, so they would leave them there and dad or I would go down with a wagon and haul the deserted cars up the farm.
      Del and Fern moved to California after the second fire wiped out most of the ranch buildings and their home in the early '50s. Lawrence and Ada Ruth rebuilt from the ground up and they are now hoping to restore a wonderful granary from the 1914-18 period. It sports a wooden ramp leading up to the second story, just as it did the last day it was used, where Model-T's would sometimes back up to push their load inside. Their eldest son and family live next to the Whitmore's rebuilt house.
      Next week we will feature the Whitmore's role in the miracle of Bickleton, population 91: the return of the nesting bluebirds, accomplished because of volunteers like the Whitmores over the last four decades. And you'll see why Bickleton is the Bluebird Capital of the World. One proviso: the Whitmores are choosy about who they will invite out to the ranch. The "1 Whitmore Road" sign isn't out for gawkers. They will sit and jaw a spell and open up their vast files, but not for gawkers. They insist on a quid pro quo; you must support their project, and if you can provide genealogy information, documents or photos about the families or communities they research, you are a leg up on the invitation list.

(Glass Onion restaurant)
One of the special entrees at the Glass Onion restaurant

      As we noted, we will review Klickitat County and the Washington shore of the Columbia Gorge in a future story, but for now we must especially recommend that if you visit Goldendale, the county seat, you must experience the ambience and the menu and wine list of the Glass Onion restaurant that will please gourmands of any stripe. Doubling as a gallery for owner and photographer Maren McGowan, it is in a charming old house at 604 S Columbus Ave. Thank you very much, Mary Jean, for introducing me to this restaurant that could be picked up in a tornado and laid down in Portland and Seattle, and not skip a beat. Take John Lennon's advice from The White Album: "Looking through the Glass Onion."

All day long I jump and run about
You can always hear me shoutin' out: "Hello bluebird!"
Got no time for blues or anything
I'm so happy, I just wanna sing: "Hello bluebird!"

"Hello Bluebird,", By Cliff Friend, 1926,
performed by Judy Garland in the movie, A Star is Born, 1952

Oregon's Sesquicentennial: celebrating
achieving statehood in 1859
      As Hoot Ramsey wrote in the Summer 2009 Edition of Columbia Gorge magazine:
(Museum, The Dalles)
The 1856 Surgeon's quarters at Fort Dalles, now the Museum

      The Oregon of Feb. 14, 1859, was a vast wilderness, slowly taking on a patchwork of farms and small settlements. Pioneers coming west from more settled parts of the continent formed a government that embodied their aspirations and ambitions for the new land they would call home. It reflected that they had experienced before embarking on the arduous physical and emotional journey across a continent rife with peril and lacking pity.
      As early as the 1840s, pioneers were seen along the Columbia River with the first wagon, driven by Dr. Robert Newell, making its way across the plains to the river in 1840. In 1843, the first large wagon train came through carrying more than 800 people to the area. That fall, transportation routes began to appear throughout the territory, and Oregon was well on its way to becoming a state.

      The climax of the celebration will occur on Sept. 17-20, after wagon master Ben Kern pulls into The Dalles (population about 12,500) atop the Oregon Statehood Wagon Train, which began its journey on Aug. 8, in Huntington, OR, which is 270 miles to the southeast, where Oregon meets southern Idaho. Families can meet the drovers and see the trains up close every day.
      The hootin' and hollerin' will last all weekend from Sept. 18-20, which will be jam-packed with events organized by The Historic The Dalles Planning Committee. We hope to be there for the arrival and we strongly urge you to join us, especially if you have schoolchildren who have not yet learned that history can be fun.
      I strongly advise you to start your tour at the Fort Dalles Museum, where Mary Davis, full-time docent, conducted me on a splendid tour in July. The museum itself is the most historically authentic and striking of any we visited on our tour, located in the Surgeon's Quarters of the fort, where construction of the permanent fort buildings began in 1856 as settlers were mobbing the new territory on their way to the coast. Wasco County was formed two years before and argonauts discovered gold near Colville, Washington, across the Columbia, so a vicious began. Whites usurped Indian land, Indians committed atrocities against wagon trains, and Major Granville O. Haller, our famous Northwest pioneer, was assigned to capture and execute the Indian leaders.
      You will be amazed when you see the Museum, constructed largely of local sandstone and local alder that was stained to mimic oak, and which stands on a solid stone foundation, and learn that it was the smallest and least costly of the four officer houses. The only building still standing, it was built from the 1850 house-plan book written by Andrew Jackson Downing, a horticulturist turned architect.
      The museum is packed with both educational items and oddities and has special displays including a spectacular collection of frontier rifles and tools, including an 1855 Remington and a saber forged in Cabotville , Massachusetts in 1846, along with an amazing original display of every bullet manufactured by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. and a collection of horseshoes handmade by local farriers Thompson and Farqher.
      As the museum site explains: "The Dalles was the end of the overland Oregon Trail. Pioneers who wished to travel on to the fertile Willamette Valley had to raft the Columbia through treacherous rapids in order to cross the Cascade Mountains. The construction of the Barlow Trail allowed travelers to continue overland and bypass Mt. Hood."
      Besides the impressive museum, this fort site slopes down to feature two buildings full of wagons and ancient cars (be sure to see the old hearses and the bizarre children's coffins), and it slopes upwards to a collection of buildings carefully transported and lovingly restored from the Anderson homestead. You can see up close a granary, a privy and a frontier house, in which you can tour every room, and they are decorated with antiques and period clothes. The Anderson house is also home to Alexander the Mouse, the most ingenious tool for focusing attention of schoolchildren that I have ever seen. See this Dalles Museum site for details, especially if you are a docent or teacher. The museum folks are planning a brand new building to house their vehicles of all periods. Right now they are all literally chock-a-block in two crowded structures.

Events and towns to visit
(Horeshoe display)
Click on the photo to see a much larger version of the horseshoe collection from Thompson & Fargher Farriers, with a caption for each one

      You can find the complete list of sesquicentennial events at Columbia Gorge magazine or at this Dalles website email them to request their terrific downtown walking tour and map. A couple that look really interesting are:
(Petite Provencal)
      The Dalles is a great small town. Right downtown they have a whole row of reasonably priced shops dealing in clothes, books and collectibles. And then there is Klindt Booksellers at 315 E. 2d St., where I wondered if I had died and gone to heaven. They have a terrific Northwest selection but that is not all; they have books of all kinds, but most important, they have book-reading clerks and associates and owner who live here and really read books. It is not a chain store, but rather completely independent and very proud of it. We wonder if Inwer Nickelsen, an immigrant of the Frisian Islands, had any inkling when he opened the store in 1869 that his shop would eventually be the oldest continuously operating bookstore in Oregon? And maybe even west of the Mississippi? The Klindts are the third family owner in all that time, Philip and Linda Klindt most recently buying the store in 1981. Don't miss it.
      I was astonished to see Petite Provence, a lovely little French restaurant on 408 E. 2d St., which was born in 2007 to three partners who immigrated in 1996. I did not eat there but talked to a large group eating breakfast and they were so pleased that they offered me bites. It is tops on my list for next time. My hosts, the Risheims, took me to the Baldwin Saloon, overlooking the Gorge, and I was also astonished to see the large collection of larger-than-life saloon art, along with an 18-foot mahogany backbar. The saloon was born in 1876 when brothers James and John Baldwin opened it to serve the railroad trade, almost next door. A later owner named Dr. Charlie Allen opened a brothel in an attached frame building. The current owners completely restored the building as a restaurant and bar in 1991. You will also want to visit the Discovery Center and Museum, which includes a tremendous Lewis and Clark exhibit as well as a Kids Explorer Room gallery, which includes an archaeological dig.
      We plan to take more time when we have the next opportunity to visit to tour The Dalles Art Center at 220 E. 4th St. It is a community-owned non profit, which features about 50 local and regional artists, juried competitions and a space for student artists from the local schools. We also recommend a tour of the original 1859 Wasco County Courthouse at 410 W. 2nd St., and take the time to walk along and observe the basalt walls built by Italian immigrants.
      The whole town is historic, both residential and the commercial area. By the way, The name The Dalles is derived from the French word dalle, meaning flagstone, and was applied to the narrows of the Columbia River, above the present city of The Dalles, by French-Canadian employees of the fur companies. The first use of the name Dalles in Oregon was in 1814. For a real educational treat, before you leave the area, drive 12 miles east on I-84 (the modern version of the historic Columbia River Highway) and see the enduring ruts in the rock of the old Oregon Trail that were left by thousands of wagons in the 1840s through 1860s. The Dalles was, after all, the end of the Oregon Trail.

Where would I stay? Hood River, Oregon
(Hood River Hotel)
Bedroom Suite at the Hood River Hotel

      That question was soon answered where Mary Jean Risheim took me inside the Hood River Hotel at 102 Oak Street, Hood River (population about 20,000), a little 20 miles west on the Gorge. From that moment on, I stopped looking. Especially after the recent bankruptcy of the Columbia Gorge Hotel, this is the finest lodging around and you will not believe the very reasonable prices. The hotel is indeed historic, originally built in 1911 as an annex to the Victorian Mt. Hood Hotel, built in 1881. Now the annex is the star. I was wowed by the rooms all the way from the courtyard area to the suites (9 of 41), which any honeymooning couple or even we oldies would love. Four poster-beds, a kitchenette, glassware and dishes grace the suites. And Chef Mark Whitehead presents a full dining room for all three meals. The wedding and honeymoon packages are very attractive and they have a full winter season offering, too.
      We plan to write more about both The Dalles and Hood River soon, but here are a few notes from our visit. Beer lovers will find Mecca at the Full Sail Brewery, which was bought by its employees ten years ago and now features a tasting pub with a great view of the river and an outside courtyard with a fine mosaic mural. All you have to do is look out at the river on a sunny day and see the wind-sailors and you will understand the company's name.
      The first thing you notice about the city of Hood River is that its downtown is more sophisticated, maybe more hip than The Dalles. At least it appears so, with its many more upscale shops and boutiques. But actually it is another small town with a real personality and spirit. It is not better than The Dalles; in reality, they complement each other. I was pleased to find the Benjamin Benjamin art gallery at 106 2nd St., featuring fine paintings by Mark Nilsson and enamels by Kathy Watne. For the ultimate in hipness, look for the Rediviva magazine with some delightful tongue-in-cheek articles, printed in a less glossy tone than the Gorge magazine.
      The town, as well as the river, were both named for the volcanic mountain to the south that dominates the whole area, just as Mount Adams does in Klickitat County, Washington. On Oct. 29, 1792, Lt. William Broughton, a member of Captain George Vancouver's Discovery crew. Lt. Broughton wrote in the log while at Belle Vue Point of what is now called Sauvie Island (north of downtown Portland) "A very high, snowy mountain now appeared rising beautifully conspicuous in the midst of an extensive tract of low or moderately elevated land (location of today's Vancouver, Washington) lying S 67 E., and seemed to announce a termination to the river." He named the mountain for a British admiral, Samuel Hood, who was a mentor to Horatio Nelson and who devised the concept of "Breaking the Line" for naval sailing vessels at war.
      Directly across the Columbia from White Salmon and Bingen, WA, the town is a base for the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop, where you drive south on Hwy 35, roughly along the old Mt. Hood Railroad (circa 1910) route to the foothills of the mountain, and then merge onto Hwy 26 westward to continue through the Hood National Forest, and the towns of Sandy and Gresham on the way to Oregon. The loop portion along the river is via I-84. This whole area features Columbia Lava, varying in thickness between 300 and 4,000 feet, resulting from many eruptions of both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams.
      A great place to start your tour of the town is The History Museum on Port Marina Drive, which is, truth be told, on the site of the old Crapper School, and yes, the docents there have heard the joke about what a crappy school it was. Bobi Jones and JoAnn Frazier were the volunteers who led us through the exhibits, which will answer many of your history questions, and showed us the extensive, terrific murals and paintings by Percy Manser, who arrived in Hood River in 1917, from England. The exhibits on the extensive local Japanese community are especially well done; you may be surprised to learn of the large numbers of Japanese immigrants who worked in the Gorge area, on both sides of the river, and how several generations have stayed on and maintained a historical presence. I also learned a great deal about the paddlewheel steamers on the Columbia from the outside exhibits of a paddle and engine.
      Hood River was platted in 1881 when speculators prepared for the railroad. The Oregon Short Line extended here in 1884 and eventually linked with the Oregon-Washington Railroad and Navigation line and the Union Pacific. The old OWR&N depot is Craftsman style, built in 1911, and the Mt. Hood Railroad scenic train now owns it. Over time, Hood River became known as the commercial center for the timber, fruit and tourism industries in the valley below the mountain. Local history lovers achieved historic district designation in 1994 to preserve the unique buildings and blocks. You can order a self-guided walking tour of the historic district by checking this website. Kudos all around.

(Yellowstone Bar)
      Peter Jacobin's Yellowstone Bar and home, apparently on Water Street in Hamilton, which is now appropriately under water. We are seeking any photos from the early days of Hamilton, especially of the buildings and people on the streets that have flooded over the years.

(Shingle Bolts)


Journal for Aug. 9-15
Recorded Aug. 9, 2009
   the beginning

I'm fixing a hole where the rain gets in
And stops my mind from wandering
Where will it go
I'm filling the cracks that ran through the door
And kept my mind from wandering
Where will it go
"Fixing a hole," by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, 1967, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band

(AYP log exhibit)
From the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific centennial website: See our notes below.

A coming out party for a journal within the Journal
      For some time now, readers have asked us for some kind of blog. First, I hate the word, blog; it has too many connotations of pajama politics and shouters, and it is too geekish for my taste. Instead, I am starting a weekly — actually irregular, journal within the Journal. We call it the Puget Sound Mail* in honor of the LaConner weekly newspaper which I tried to buy in 1983, in league with my late and great best man, David Cunningham. It was the oldest continuously published newspaper in the territory and state until it ended publication that year; it debuted as the Bellingham Bay Mail in 1873 until 1879. We can never equal the work those Mail editors did, but we can honor their pioneer spirit by emulating them.
      We also honor Dick Fallis, who tried his best as publisher to save the Mail while also writing books and columns about Skagit history, especially his very important Skagit Centennial Almanac, from 1983, that still serves all us historians with details and facts and bits of humor. Our plans for the Mail in 1983 were surprisingly much like our plans for this web-based Journal in 2000, but of course we did not envision the Internet back then. We wanted to turn the Mail into a monthly historical magazine based in LaConner, with material that would remind people that LaConner was once a very important, thriving retail center without a single boutique. And we believed that if we used the mailing list of several thousand, we could appeal to descendants of the old families to share copies of documents and photos. This all came true with the Journal website, even if we could not obtain the original Mail newspaper to implement the original plan.
      The plan is to make the Puget Sound Mail column interactive, so that readers can comment, criticize and suggest or add material. Besides notes jotted during our travel and research, we will tell you what we are reading, the stories currently being finalized along with those in the immediate-future queue, and whimsy and examples of why we have decided — after our recent cancer experience, that life on this planet is a pretty fine affair. The comments section is a little rinky-dink right now, but we are working with our technology guru (cum photographer, teacher, director and one-time wrestler), Jean Sherrard, to build a comments system that will be relatively seamless. I launch this column on my Medicare birthday, hoping it works. Hop along and come for the ride. The train is about the leave the station. All aboard.

(Mount Vernon Waterfront)
      Paul Dorpat found this photo of the Mount Vernon waterfront, circa 1910-20 period. The photographer stood on the old bridge to West Mount Vernon, looking south, and you can see the original revetment and buildings that then fronted on Main Street. Can you help us identify the buildings or nail down the year this photo may have taken? For the new Washington Then & Now book, Jean Sherrard took a photo showing what the waterfront looks like now. That could possibly become a Then photo, itself, if the proposed waterfront development plan comes to fruition. Click on this photo for a much larger panoramic version of the photo. The book is now available in bookstores everywhere or it can be ordered at your favorite store or online. See our Journal review.

I'm painting a room in a colourful way
And when my mind is wandering
There I will go.
"Fixing a Hole"

Why we do this . . . and thanks
      We were reminded again, when we visited Bickleton, Washington — population 91 and a couple thousand bluebirds, of why it is important for all of us history scribes to get it down on paper and to get it as right as we can. I met Ada Ruth Whitmore, and her husband, Lawrence, and toured their most unusual and wondrous country museum, the "Whoop-n-Holler." We will share all in an article about this most unusual museum — which is "way to hell and gone from nowhere," next week but suffice it to say that they are delightful and responsible for recording the history and genealogy of that area above the Columbia River where sagebrush tumbles, where Bison graze and where miles sometimes pass before you see another house. Thank you both for reminding us of why we do this Journal. And thank you, Mary Jean and Erik Risheim, for giving me the opportunity and the ride.
      And I especially want to thank my recent hosts in Seattle, Jean and Karen (Chartier) Sherrard, educators, artists, et al, who gave me the opportunity to review what it is that Seattle has to offer the historian and visitor who wants to see beneath the gilt on the lily. They provided a place to lay my head and they pointed directions to things and people I should observe. They reminded me of the things I liked long ago about living in that city, along with providing scintillating conversation (a word I have not had the occasion to use in some time). And to my host Jon Jech — fellow Sedro-Woolley High School alumnus 1962, for when we mined each other's brain to wring out the historical and genealogic treasures we have learned over the years. The most pleasing new item we found was the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition exhibit and collection at the Suzallo Library, University of Washington, where they are celebrating the centennial. More to come. And thanks to Jon Beal, who reminded me at his splendid Riservati Imports how lovely Italian wines taste, and for a reasonable price.
      Watch for all the Seattle Stories and journal notes next week through the end of the month. And we will also tell you about the literal forest of Rodin statues and busts that we saw again in San Francisco, Stanford and Maryhill, Washington. And the story of the woman responsible for many of them, Alma le Normand de Bretteville Spreckels (1881-1968), and her friend Sam Hill ("what in the Sam Hill are you talking about?" — popular expression early to mid-20th century) who built the museum after working for his famous father-in-law, James J. Hill of the Great Northern Railroad. With that upcoming flight of stories you will also find our feature about the Oregon Sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of statehood this year, culminating in the arrival of a covered wagon in The Dalles, Oregon, on Sept. 20, an event I hope to see.
      And thanks again to my mentor and guru in all things Seattle, Paul Dorpat, Esq., for the wisdom he shared with me and for inviting me to the annual softball game where all generations challenge each other, this year in the week of the heat wave, headed again by authors Clay Eals (Steve Goodman: Facing the Music) and Dave Eskenazi (Rain Check, Baseball in the Pacific Northwest, and for sporting us starving artists to lunch at the Spud (West Seattle) afterwards. I tried to trip up Dave with a question about Vic Pigg, Sedro-Woolley's most famous baseball star before Sonny Jordan, but like a good Boy Scout, he was thoroughly prepared.
      And thanks also, Paul, for introducing me to Rich Berner, 92, whose three-volume history, Seattle in the 20th Century, was introduced in 1991 and Volume One is soon to be reprinted and updated on DorpatSherrardLomont.

(Viking Day 1909)
The Vikings had their way in 1909, pillaging and ransacking and dressing awful fierce. Visit the Nordic Heritage Museum while you are in Seattle as they welcome A-Y-P-E visitors with special exhibits through Sept. 6.

I'm taking the time
for a number of things
That weren't important yesterday
And I still go
"Fixing a Hole"

The AYP Exposition of 1909 — Washington's
coming-out party post-Klondike gold rush

      The best things from an artistic point of view are the Olympic mountains, the Cascades, Mount Rainier and the two beautiful lakes. These are things that cannot be matched anywhere else in the country. If the landscaping at the exposition has made the most of the natural beauties at hand then it may be considered a success.
— John C. Olmsted, Seattle P-I, May 29, 1909

      Contrary to his stepfather, Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., who designed the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, John C. Olmsted chose to use bright flowering perennials to contrast with rugged native northwest vegetation, writing in a letter to his wife [on April 12, 1907]: "I want to raise a lot of bright flowering perennial plants for the exhibition because they bloom, many of them, much later than shrubs. They will give brilliancy of detail to the plantations. I place very little dependence on ordinary shade trees; nursery sizes being too small to be effective and big ones being too costly for the limited funds available." (From the extensive bundle of handouts available at the exhibit.)
      As Don Duncan explained (Seattle Times, May 22, 2009), The A-Y-P really "owed its genesis to Godfrey Chealander, who wanted Seattle to put up a permanent downtown Alaska museum, featuring the Alaska exhibit he'd assembled for Portland's 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition." Originally promoted by the P-I's influential editor, Erastus Brainerd, The Alaska Exhibition added on the other two parts when Yukon was suggested by those who hearkened back to the 1897 Yukon/Klondike gold rush, and those who wanted a foreign flavor like the exhibit from neighbor Canada. And Professor Edmond Meany insisted that Pacific be added because of his prediction that what we now call the Pacific Rim "would be a major trading partner in the future."
      After the Chamber formed an Exhibition Corp. and J.E. Chilberg (any relation to the same-named family on Pleasant Ridge?), president of Seattle's Scandinavian Bank, was appointed president of the A-Y-P. "Chilberg, with his limited education and occasional grammatical slips, exceeded expectations. A tireless worker, he paid his own fare on fundraising trips around the country, and he always wore a smile."
      By the summer of 1906, they were ready to proceed but they realized that they needed someone to design the campus for the exposition who knew the Northwest and its resources. They soon called for John C. Olmsted (1852-1920), who began designing Seattle's landscaped parks in 1903. He was the son-in-law of Frederick Law Olmstead Sr. (1822-1903) who gained sustained fame in 1858 when he and Calvert Vaux designed the Greensward Plan, i.e., Central Park in Manhattan.
      On June 1, 1909, the exposition opened with the blessing of President William Howard Taft, and the Olmsted firm had earned every cent of its $350,000 contract by landscaping 250 acres between lakes Union and Washington and essentially finishing days early. Such was a rarity with fares back in those days. His partners Frederick Law Olmsted Jr. (1870-1957) and James Frederick Dawson were active day to day in the implementation and John returned often to consult. Architect John Galen Howard came north from his position at the University of California, in Berkeley, to act as supervising architect.
      The exposition welcomed visitors from all over the country and the world as it continued through Oct. 16, 1909. Soon after closing, workmen methodically razed most of the buildings all over the campus, from Pay Streak on the 15th Avenue side to the slope on the east and south sides. The most obvious survivor is Frosh Pond with Drumheller Fountain in the center. The day I walked through, the temperature had already reached 85 by 11 a.m. and the ducks were on parade all around the stone rim. Ducklings have appeared and the grounds staff created wooden ramps for them to waddle up and down from the water. I began my informal tour as thousands of exposition guests did, looking south across what was then Geyser Basin, with Mount Rainier in the distance. The mountain was out that day and I was glued to the spot for an hour, reading and assimilating what the guests experienced, although concrete now covers the cascading falls north of the pond.
      We plan to explore the exposition in more depth later this month, but we urge you to visit the University campus anytime from now to Oct. 30 to see the When the World Came to Campus exhibit at the Suzallo Library, Room 102. You can find two other exhibits at the adjoining Allen Library, Capturing the A-Y-P-E: Frank Nowell, Exposition Photographer on the balcony, and Alaskan Women's Work at the 1909 A-Y-P-E in the south basement. A special Centennial Photography Project runs until Sept. 27 in the top floor of the Architecture Hall, featuring University students. You are welcome to a free guided tour of the exhibit grounds on the last Saturday of each month. And you can make an appointment at 1-800-838-3006 for the $10 guided walking tours on the first Thursday of every month. Find all the details, period photographs and many features at the websites: and Kudos to everyone responsible for this appropriate and inspiring centennial and another reason to visit the UW's beautiful campus and architecture.

Thunder on the mountain, and there's fires on the moon
A ruckus in the alley and the sun will be here soon
Today's the day, gonna grab my trombone and blow
Well, there's hot stuff here and it's everywhere I go

"Thunder on the mountain," by Bob Dylan, 2006

Stories being researched or finished — can you help?
      I was sitting there by Frosh Pond, foraging both a sandwich and the rich pasture laid out in front of me and thought again of how ill I was five months before to the day, and the near-miracle recovery since. Bob Dylan, Norah Jones, the Beatles, Billy Joel, Yo-Yo Ma and Miles Davis were my guides that day and I marveled at the 40 years that transpired between "Fixing a Hole" and "Thunder on the Mountain" as I listened closely again. Thank you, Jesus. And the Buddha, too.
      We will chart out our plans for upcoming features and what you might be able to provide on these pages in a couple of days. Right now, we are polishing the issues of Issue 50 of our online Journal subscribers magazine. Besides features on Lyman Cutlar and Susan Currier Ornes and Dr. Frazee in Sedro-Woolley, among our other features will be a five-part profile and exploration of Thomas Pier Hastie and family, one of the earliest of the Northwest pioneers of our Skagit families. They crossed the plains in 1850 in a covered wagon, and Thomas recalled that he walked most of the way, sometimes barefoot, via the Oregon Trail. I visited three of his descendants in Seattle and they kindly presented copies of rare photographs and documents. Hastie was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge in Skagit City in 1882 and served as Grand Master for the first ten years; the lodge moved to Mount Vernon.
      Also while in Seattle, I viewed and copied the Sanborn Fire Insurance maps for the early days of Skagit towns. For some reason, the only really complete file is from Sedro-Woolley, with six different maps from 1898 to 1926. I also copied one from Mount Vernon and one from Burlington. These will be shared and summarized in Issue 51 of the magazine.
      Finally, in the next month we will explore the sesquicentennial of Oregon as a state. I had the pleasure of visiting museums in both Hood River and The Dalles; the latter dates from the fort of the 1950s where settlers often stayed the winter after coming west on wagon trains, camping near the Celilo Falls, which are sadly gone. Other stories in the cue include the wonderful school garden project that my cousin-in-law Nancy Kirks showed me and stories of my California visit, including our first wine columns in years

Story posted on August 9, 2009, last updated Dec. 5, 2009
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