Ear: Diehless

Mike Duncan wrote in about his former Astoria High School classmate, Tom Peterson, who was visiting Astoria from New Mexico, and brought along an incredibly detailed 16:1 scale model of his father's fishing boat, the Diehless, that he had built from scratch.

"While growing up in Astoria (graduated 1970), my dad was a fisherman, and we grew up with life on the waterfront," Tom explained. "When his legs couldn’t take crab fishing any longer, he decided to become a cash buyer on the river.

"A cash buyer buys salmon at a higher price than the cannery, and receives a commission on what he takes aboard. My dad used the Diehless, and previous boats, to do this job. He was was well known on the river.

"The original Diehless was built in 1916 to serve as a tender for the salmon industry on the Lower Columbia River around Astoria. I (built) it in memory of my father, who owned her from the late 1970s through the early 1990s.

"In 1995, he died from a heart attack. When I came up from New Mexico for the funeral, I went to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and purchased a copy of the the plans that replicated the Diehless. 

"It took me over 20 years to complete the model, and it was built with all the keel part, ribs, beams and planking that would be in the original." A video about the build is at bit.ly/diehless

"I brought the model up to Oregon to show my mother," Tom recalled. "She is 94, and in a nursing home in Lebanon. There is not much mental stimulation in her life. When I opened up the travel case for the model her eyes lit up like old times."

"Every time I opened up the model in the past week and a half, I saw eyes light up," he added. "The memories and stories of everyone flooded out. That was worth the effort put into this build."

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

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