10 years ago this week — 2009

It takes brute strength and technical precision to work on the U.S. Coast Guard’s arsenal of navigational buoys. And for the second year in a row the crew of the Astoria-based cutter Fir won top honors in a competition that measured which vessel’s team can best perform the rigors of buoy tending.


2009 — Boatswain’s Mate Third Class Dan Beekman, left, and Electrician’s Mate Third Class Alex Cordova from the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Fir, pound the pin of a shackle during the ‘Heat and Beat’ race Aug. 13 as part of the West Coast Aids to Navigation Olympics.

The buoy tender Fir’s crew recently competed in the West Coast Aids to Navigation Olympics, held in Alameda, California, and defended their title as ATON champions. The crew won all but one of the events.

SEASIDE — Ernestine Neitzel remembers when the croaking frogs on her farm were so loud they kept her kids awake at night.

But in recent years, nights on the Neitzel farm have grown strangely silent as the Necanicum River side channel that once cut through the pasture has all but dried up.

“We haven’t had frogs in that stream for years,” she said. “It would be nice to get some frogs back in there.”

To bring the frogs back, Neitzel, 86, is restoring the wetlands on a large section of her 35-acre farm along U.S. Highway 26.

“We just decided to go nature,” she said.

The decision earned Neitzel high praise from U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., and a place in the Congressional Record this summer.

“With this contribution, she leaves a legacy of environmental conservation and dedication to the restoration of a natural resource that is an essential component to our way of life in the Pacific Northwest,” Wu wrote in his congressional tribute.

Samuel Johnson is grinning like a Cheshire cat this week — and no wonder.

He has just learned that the Columbia River Maritime Museum has been chosen as the permanent home for a collection of maps, books and engravings valued at $1,228,000.

“It’s truly a national treasure,” beamed Johnson, who became executive director of the museum earlier this summer. “The guys at the Smithsonian would love to have this. It is an incredible addition to our collection.”

The U.S. Coast Guard had a busy weekend, assisting over 20 boaters with broken-down vessels get back to shore safely.

On Saturday, a HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Air Station Astoria helped rescue a kayaker and his dog after the two capsized in the river near the East Mooring Basin.

At about 5 p.m., a bystander on the Riverwalk heard calls from Stanford Overbay, 62, needing help. The bystander called 911, and the Astoria police and fire departments responded and contacted the Coast Guard for support.

50 years ago — 1969

The 1969 Astoria Regatta, its colorful trappings wrapped in mothballs, its just-as-colorful events, wrapped in memories, may have been one of the most successful of them all, judging from comments and rehash.

Marching band

1969 — Astoria Sunsetters in the Grand Land Parade.

From the man in the street to Jay Shepherd, president of the Regatta Association, (who was all over the streets of Astoria during the four-day festival), the comment was that “everything went off just as planned.” This, of course, can’t include the hydroplane races Sunday at Cullaby Lake, which had to be canceled due to the strong winds that came up during the afternoon.

“This looks like the biggest day of the season” for gillnet salmon landings, one packer said this morning.

Although no figures were available yet, packers predicted deliveries today will be “without question, double the next biggest day.”

Packers and fishermen alike were pleased with the one day extension of Columbia River fishing granted Friday by the Oregon Fish Commission and Washington Department of Fisheries. The August season will close at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A shortage of longshoremen kept two ships idle at the Port of Astoria today as a total of six ships were in port.

Port Manager C.E. Hodges said the Rondeggen, here to discharge 2,000 tons of newsprint and 5,350 tons of wood pulp for Crown Zellerbach, and the Marne Lloyd, loading 850 tons of wood pulp from Crown for South Africa, would have longshore gangs Wednesday following schedule departure tonight of the Calmar, which is loading 6.5 million board feet of lumber for the East Coast. The Rondeggen and Marne Lloyd arrived Sunday.


1969 – Ships jam the Port; a shortage of longshoremen hampers work.

Situation was similar all along the Columbia River, he said. “This is not an abnormal situation,” Hodges noted.

Grading crews at Northwest Aluminum Co.’s plant site near Warrenton continued to fight “very liquid” mud despite a virtually rainless August, according to Harold Hare, resident engineer for Parsons-Jurden Co.

Hare said the clay is “not drying at all” and grading of the 200-acre tract is being accomplished most of the time by having one scraper pushed by two Caterpillar tractors to keep it from sinking into the much.

The assistant manager of an American furniture store gets a lift on a sailing vessel of the Canadian Navy. How does he like it?

“It was educational and it was fun, said Omer Stephens Jr., of Astoria.

Stephens, who was president of the Astoria Regatta Association last year, spent quite a bit of time aboard the ketch-rigged HMCS Oriole during last week’s Regatta, getting to know the skipper and crew quite well.

“I saw the skipper (Lt. Cmdr. Peter Cox) at the Admiral’s reception Saturday and he said, “Why don’t you ship out with us Monday and your wife can drive up and pick you up?” Stephens said he thought at first that it was a joke. “It was a joke at first with me, but not with them,” said Stephens, “So I went.”

“I learned to sleep on a bed while hanging on all night,” said Stephens. He said the sailing was somewhat rough, even to the extent that crew members had to take the roast beef from their plates and make beef sandwiches because the plates kept sliding off the table.

Beer and a few ounces of rum are parts of the Canadian sailor’s daily ration, the Astorian said. He said a bar on board is apparently open 24 hours a day. If the crewmen abuse the privileged of drinking, it’s cut off, but Stephens said he saw no such abuse.

He said crew members of the Oriole, which is a training vessel for the Canadian Navy, appeared fairly young, but he learned that each man had at least 11 years service behind him.

75 years ago — 1944

There were several large live-bait boat albacore deliveries here over the weekend, most of the larger deliveries going to the Van Camp cannery, which has stepped up operations in recent weeks and is joining other canneries now in an appeal of cannery labor.

The Van Camp company received the Washington with about 24,000 pounds, the Seattle boat Soupfin with more then 45,000 pounds and the Spitfire with 30,000 pounds. The Thelma H, with more than 15,000 pounds, went to the Columbia River Packers’ Association. Tuna receipts over the weekend were generally heavy.

HEADQUARTERS, 13th AAF, Southwest Pacific. — Second Lt. Norman O. Saarheim of Astoria, bombardier in the famed veteran Bomber Barons group of B-24 Liberators, took part in a recent 13th AAF strike at pinpoint targets on the island fortress of Yap in the western Carolines.

Termed by the officials as “strictly a bombardier’s show,” the raid was part of an aerial campaign against the important enemy base by knocking out the principal power plant on the island, scoring direct hits on barracks, destroying the important causeway across the inlet by Yap town and directly hitting huge underground fuel storage tanks.

Sports fishing on the Columbia River opened Sunday with a rush, but with not too much success for some of the Waltonians who hauled their gear through the sharp tides of the weekend. Several boats made seven-fish hauls, including John Classen’s Alert with a Portland party aboard and a Yakima group in another.

Angling conditions later this week are predicted to improve.

The temperature here soared to a new year’s high Tuesday, reaching a maximum of 93 degrees at 4:30 p.m. And exceeding by 8 degrees the year’s previous high mark of 84 registered on June 3.

Tuesday’s temperature was higher than the hottest day of 1943, when on Sept. 8, it reached 90 degrees. The all-time high temperature was scored in 1942, when on July 1 the temperature climbed to 104 and the humidity reached the unprecedented and dangerous low of 10.

The situation in Clatsop woods was described as dangerous today.

Bob Duke is the author of the weekly Water Under the Bridge column in The Astorian. Contact him at beachduke@gmail.com

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