Tour through Gearhart brings back memories

<p>Claire Lovell</p>

A tour of Gearhart one Saturday revealed the demolishing of my sister Betty’s first home there, a shabby, red-shingled derelict, but the clean square where it sat was on green grass. Farther down the same road where we had been earlier, we passed Rozella and Fred Ober’s house on the right and ending up at Henry Ober’s house on the left by the river, where my brother-in-law, Doug Ober, grew up.

Not too long ago, Gearhart was just a tiny little “hometown” on the beach. People lived there the year around and the few second homes – many on the front – had been around a long time. I have no idea of the census then but it was small.

There were two hotels – the Gearhart Hotel, quite large and famous, hosting many fancy social events. I don’t know much about the Ocean House at the southwest end of Pacific Way, except that it was owned (?) by the Schroeders, and my sister, Alta Mae, worked there sometimes as a better-than-Mildred-Pierce waitress!

There was a school and two grocery stores with one of them housing the post office where the bakery is now. There were two churches as well, a gas station, a riding academy barn (in the news today) and many cottages, a few shops and, naturally, the golf course, which has always been a draw.

Tooling around town now, the number of large new houses is staggering. Most of them are finished with cedar shingles. (Seaside’s too.) When I built fires in the old days, I used cedar for kindling, so they worry me. We saw three deer on our tour also ... a doe and two fawns gamboling through the trees.

Audrey Christiansen called me from Hawaii a while ago. She lives there with her daughter now but still thinks fondly of Seaside and her time here. She keeps in touch via the Signal. You may remember that Audrey was married for a time to Frank Roshay. It’s good to hear from old friends and learn how they’re doing.

Carey Buerk told us of the recent death of his uncle, Val Don Hickerson. Don, as I knew him, was born in 1926, and every now and then there was a letter from him about Seaside and its goings on. He never forgot his hometown. Don had earlier written his own thoughts about us in a book. We’ll miss knowing he’s around. There’s only a handful of us left who remember “the way we were,” and Don was one of them.

Though St. Patrick’s Day is long gone, this story is meant to be shared.

An Irishman walked up to the bar of a local pub and ordered three pints of Guinness to be brought to his table. When the drinks arrived, he took a swallow from each in succession until they were gone, then he lingered a while to enjoy the other customers. After a short time, the barkeep came over and told him, “Your beers would stay cooler and taste better if you’d drink them down one at a time until they’re finished.”

“That won’t do at all,” said the Irishman. My friends and I made a pact last year that we’d meet every St. Patrick’s Day for a drink to celebrate. The other beers are for them.”

This went on for several years. One day, the Irishman arrived and ordered two pints of Guinness. The other patrons, having observed this odd behavior over the years, jumped up and went over to commiserate.

“We’re sorry for your loss,” they told him in various ways as they gathered around. “Oh, no,” said the Irishman. “My friends are both fine. I just quit drinkin’.”

In the April 18 Signal, with pictures of a tsunami beakfish, the bottom photo of this creature has such a coy look, “she” should be given a special name – maybe something like Flirty Gertie. Just a thought. Also, the gathering of sand dollars in another column was unusual because they were live. That word was omitted, making it sound rather pointless.

Claire Lovell lives in Seaside and can be reached at (503) 738-7215.