As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 15, 2018


Unfortunately I can't identify any of the Ocean Crest children in this picture, taken during a field day in 1978, but I can definitely pick out long-time Ocean Crest principal Jim Cowan. This may have been 40 years ago, but Jim still looks as good today as he did back then ... as does his wife Kathy.

Ocean Crest principal Jim Cowan, 1978
Ocean Crest principal Jim Cowan, 1978

I am posting the second picture for my younger readers, who have probably never been to the polls to vote, since voting is all done by mail-in-ballot these days. This photo was taken in November of 1970 as well-known artist Pernot Duff, at left, gets her ballot from elections clerk Edith Gallier. Not sure who the other woman is, but at top right, voting her ballot, is Josephine Breuer Taylor, sister of Mike Breuer, the cobbler. The Breuer building still stands today on the west end of First Street, between Edgewater's Restaurant and the old Coast Guard building, and is one of the few buildings to survive the Fire of 1936.

Voting at the polls, 1970
Voting at the polls, 1970

I remember years ago when Vote by Mail was first introduced .... I didn't like it then and I don't like it now. I know I have shared this story before, but the first time ballots were mailed, I went to the post office and found five or six (or maybe it was more) ballots that had been thrown into the garbage without even being ripped up. It would have been a simple thing for someone to pick them out of the trash and go to the people whose ballots they were and ask them to sign them so they could vote their ballots. It was obvious they didn't care enough to vote .... or even to make sure someone else didn't vote for them.

I wrote a pretty hard-hitting editorial about my find, but I never did identify the people who had so casually thrown away their vote .... but I always wondered if that was a mistake.

The idea of Vote by Mail was supposed to make it easier for people to vote, but I fear that has not been the case as has been evidenced in past elections where so many simply did not bother to mail their ballots.

The third photo, taken in 1970 in front of the beautiful Dave Miller Field sign at the high school, pictures three Bandon High School football all-stars, (from left) Bruce Capps, Truett Forrest and Dan Winters. I still remember taking that picture as the schools were my beat, along with pretty much everything else.

Bandon High School football all-stars, 1970
Bandon High School football all-stars, 1970

*           *           *

"Murder at Two Mile: A True Bandon Mystery", presented by The Gaels, a local readers theater group, was sold out for all three performances this weekend. Taking part were Gaels members Neal Davis, Mike Dempsey, John Fink, Richard Robinett, Amy Moss Strong and Donald Zealand. It was directed by Corrie Gant. Michelle Winchell is also a Gaels member and greeted people at the door. Davis wrote the script based on a true story.

Murder at Two Mile is the story of Ebba Wiren Covell, who was murdered on Labor Day, 1923, at her Two Mile home south of Bandon.

The story is significant to me in several ways. To begin with the numerous articles which followed the case from the day her body was found to the hanging of Arthur Covell, were written by my grandfather, L. D. Felsheim, who owned and operated the Western World for many years.

Also, there is a reference in a book about the murders, written by Andie Jensen, to H. H. Dufree, who is said to have come upon Mrs. Covell, who was crying as she walked with two of her young children. Actually, I am pretty sure that was my other grandfather, H. H. Dufort, as I searched at length through early records and can find no one named Dufree in Bandon's history. That part of the story in Andie's book actually came out of the Coquille Sentinel, so it is not surprising that since he was not from Coquille, they misspelled his name.

H. H. is also quoted as saying, after he had heard about her death, that she "either committed suicide or was murdered." And he was right.

I mentioned in my column last week that in my extensive old postcard collection, I have one which I felt was probably written by Ebba Wiren, and I have now determined that is correct. She signed her name E. C. Wiren, and according to one history site, her middle name was Caroline; Jensen's book says her middle name was Catherine, which I think is correct. At any rate, E.C. were her initials and she wrote the post card to a friend in Coquille City, Oregon, Sept. 26, 1912, when she was 20 years old and teaching in Bandon. At that time she was living in the lighthouse keepers quarters with her parents as her father, Oscar Wiren, was the lighthouse keeper. In September of 1917, she became Dr. Covell's fourth wife (he was divorced from the first and the other two died, including one in childbirth). She had three young children before she was murdered in September of 1923 by her step-son, 16-year-old Alton Covell, who was under the spell of his paralyzed uncle, Arthur Covell. Arthur was later hanged for the crime. Alton spent 10 or 11 years in prison before being released.

Bill Smith, who shares the history bug with me, found in the 1930 census that Dr. Covell had moved to Los Angeles with a new wife (his fifth) and two of the children born to him and Ebba. Ebba's oldest child, Gladys, shows up in the 1930 census as living with her uncle, Loyal Wiren, in the state of Washington.

Loyal is mentioned in her postcard. The thing that remains a mystery is why she would say "I am feeling quite well but I get so tired when I walk so have been staying home. Loyal is back at his work again."

She also starts the postcard to her friend, Mrs. J. L. Roy, by saying, "We heard you were sick the other day and have all been wondering how you are getting along."

Now I have to figure out what was going around in 1912 that would have caused so much emphasis on the health of Ebba Wiren, her brother Loyal and her friend, Mrs. Roy.

The back of the postcard is, of course, what I have been focusing on, but the front is a wonderful picture of the S. S. Tillamook crossing the Bandon bar.

*           *           *

A worried young woman asked me the other day if the city council was banning pit bulls. I told her we were not as there had been no discussion of breed-specific dogs. But the council had discussed the issue of aggressive dogs after a recent attack by two pit bulls in a Bandon neighborhood.

*           *           *

After four unsuccessful calls to Comspan's call center in an attempt to cancel the service at The Continuum, I decided to try a different approach. When I sent in the $76 payment for my own Internet to the Roseburg address for Comspan, I included a letter outlining the trouble I had in simply trying to cancel a service, and I was clearly agitated (that is a nice way of putting it).

To my amazement, two days later I received a call from the CEO of Comspan, who had been with the company for 16 years. He apologized profusely and assured me that the account had now been closed, and he promised that things would be better soon.

I outlined many of the negative things that have occurred with Comspan in recent years, including closing the local office. He assured me that the office will be opening soon, with a real person to help customers, and other things that should make Comspan customers happy.

I hope it's not too late. I know that the hospital and the clinic were without phone service for several hours one day last week (actually it might have been like most of the day) and it was reportedly a problem with the Comspan service. I believe they may be looking at another service provider. But at least for now, I have been assured that things will get better for Bandon customers, which is good news!

*           *           *

I have learned that Eileen Scott, who was an assistant to Judy Knox at the museum for a couple of years, died recently after a lengthy illness. I always enjoyed talking to Eileen and learning her perspective on things!

*           *           *

I've heard that six or seven rifles were stolen from Forrest Simpson's gun shop, FCS Protection Services, at 11th and Fillmore early last Monday morning. Two people apparently broke their way through the glass door, stole the guns, and were gone in a very short time in a get-away car, which was reportedly parked along Rosa Road.




As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 08, 2018


It's Sunday (and just happens to be my birthday), but like the US Mail, my column must "go through" ... or something like that.

The first picture I am sharing is from my collection of old postcards, and was probably taken sometime in the '20s or maybe earlier. You don't realize how huge the sailing schooner (if that's what it's called) is until you see the tiny tug in the middle of the bay. The postcard is titled: "Looking Over the Bay at Bandon." I did find a similar scene in my collection, dated Aug. 26, 1918.

Sailing schooner
Sailing schooner, 1920s

In the background you can see the mill that was built in 1906 by L. J. Cody and George Moore. Originally known as Cody Mill, it burned in 1909, and Moore purchased Cody's interest and rebuilt, renaming it Moore Mill. During World War I the mill cut spruce for US Army airplanes.

It was purchased in 1943 by the Miller family, who operated it for many years as Moore Mill & Lumber Co. before closing in the mid-'80s. It caught fire and burned while being dismantled in 1987.

The second picture, taken during a fire drill at Bandon High School, was probably taken in the early 1960s. I can see teachers Ernie Neal and Rea Tresidder at right, and in the door of the music room, is long-time band director Lou Wright. Behind the industrial arts building, and across Ninth, is what was at one time the kindergarten, and today serves as the school district office.

Fire drill at Bandon High School
Fire drill at Bandon High School, 1960s

I love this third picture, which was taken in about 1963, as my uncle Lou Felsheim (with his darkroom apron on) tries to get on the roof of M&L Grocery which is on fire. You can barely see the smoke rising from the shingles, but with Bandon's history of fires, even the smallest one caused panic. The step ladder that Lou is on is being held by one of the store's owners, Fred Moore.

M&L Grocery on fire, 1963
M&L Grocery on fire, 1963

Since I started working at the paper in 1959, and we were directly across the street in the space now occupied by The Cobbler's Bench, I am pretty sure that I took the pictures. This is just one in a series of shots that shows Lou on the top of the roof with a fire extinguisher working to put out the fire as the fire department arrives on scene.

The store was located right where the Minute Cafe's parking lot is today.

*           *           *

After spending Friday swimming at Sixes with my sisters Maggie and Molly and Maggie's son and three of her grandchildren, they cooked a birthday dinner for me.

I had gone up Sixes to the spot, owned by the Crew family, a number of times in the last two years, but Molly was always driving and I failed to pay attention as to how far it was from the highway.

Big mistake.

I told them I would be there around 2 Friday, but left a bit earlier. But as I drove up the road, I had it in my mind that the property was about 10 miles from the highway, and I knew it was past Edson Creek. I was expecting to see a large sign for the Edson Creek campground, so I wasn't too worried ... until I saw a sign warning me that the next 1.3 miles was a one-way road. I thought to myself, "this does not look familiar," but I rationalized that the road must have dropped away during the winter, so I kept on going. Thank God I did not meet anyone because it would have been a frightening experience to back up along the narrow, winding road, with nothing but a sheer dropoff on one side. But I kept on going ...

When I came to the end of the pavement and hit gravel, I knew for sure that I was lost. I was beginning to get a bit anxious since I knew I had to traverse that narrow stretch of road again and there is no cell service up there. I soon found a house and pulled in to ask if they knew where the Crew property was. The owner said it was two miles back toward the highway. And she said the Edson campground was even further down the road. I wondered how I could have missed it; later I saw the tiny sign and knew how that happened.

At any rate I finally made it to my destination, none the worse for the emotional wear.

*           *           *

Joan DeCosta Goodbrod called me this week to say that the "new" Bandon High School (which burned in 1974) was actually occupied/built in 1950, not 1951. She remembers well because she was a senior when they moved to the newly built school probably after Christmas break, and they were the first class to graduate from the school. Not sure where I read 1951 ... or maybe I made it up, but I know that 1950 is the correct year.

*           *           *

David took me out to The Gallery at Bandon Dunes Saturday night for dinner, and we sat next to a very charming couple, who I learned was Philip Bailey, lead singer for the band Earth, Wind and Fire, and his wife, singer/songwriter Valerie Bailey (nee Davis), who has worked with superstars like Whitney Houston and Celine Dion.

I Googled Philip Bailey, and saw a video posted by him on Twitter "taking a moment to appreciate the beauty at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort."

As we were trying to decide what to order, Valerie turned to us and showed us the wagyu beef burger she had ordered, and we exchanged pleasantries.

The Resort is such a treat ... for us locals and people from all over the world.

*           *           *

The Gaels Readers Theater is presenting the Covell murder case this weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, at the Sprague Room in the Bandon Library. "Murder at Two Mile: A True Bandon Mystery" tells the story of the murder of Ebba Covell, wife of Bandon chiropractor Fred Covell, which occurred in 1923.

When I worked at Western World, we went back into the old volumes of the paper and reprinted the entire Covell murder case over a span of quite a few weeks.

It is a fascinating story and one you won't want to miss. Friday and Saturday night shows start at 7, and Sunday's show is at 2. Admission is $5 at the door.

Ebba was Dr. Covell's second wife and she was the daughter of the long-time Coquille River lighthouse keeper, Capt. Oscar Wiren. His first wife died leaving him with two small children. He and Ebba had three young children.

In my collection I have a postcard, dated Sept. 25, 1912, written to a person in Coquille from an E. C. Wiren of Bandon. In it she refers to Loyal, who she says is "back at his work." According to the genealogy sites, Ebba Wiren had a brother named Loyal, so it may well be that Ebba Wiren Covell wrote the postcard that is in my collection. If I knew when she married Fred Covell, I would know for sure, but I haven't found that yet. It may also have been written by her mother, whose name was Caroline.

*           *           *

I've learned that the Bandon Playhouse, highly regarded for the entertainment it has provided for the people of Bandon and the South Coast, is now on a year-long sabbatical. Former Playhouse president Paul Hay sent an email to City Manager Robert Mawson in late July saying that immediately he was resigning his position as chairman of the Arts Council.

"The Bandon Playhouse is going to take a year-long sabbatical to determine where we are going to go from here and as such do not think I'm the right person to be holding such an important position," Hay said, adding "thanks for your support and understanding."

Hay was also previously serving as director of sales and marketing for the Sprague Theater.

I sincerely hope that someone will step forward and revitalize the Bandon Playhouse, which has been providing stellar entertainment in Bandon for more than 40 years.




As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

August 01, 2018


The first picture I am sharing this week was probably taken sometime in the 1920s, and although I have seen several different views, I did not realize that the Bandon Library was in the building at the end of Alabama on the right.

Downtown Bandon, 1920s
Downtown Bandon, 1920s

Not only is that a great picture of the First National Bank building (now the Masonic building), but it also a great picture of the Catholic Church, which was built in 1893 on the same land where the church sits today, overlooking the Coquille River.

For a better perspective, I think that Olivia's Cottage is about where the Rex Theater is in the picture, next to the New York Clothing Store and down from the Agate Cafe.

I found a bit about the library in Dow Beckham's book about the Fire of 1936. It explains that in 1913 the bank constructed its building against the bluff on Alabama Street and moved there the following year. This, of course, is one of the few buildings to survive both the 1914 and the 1936 fires.

"In 1914 the citizens of Bandon voted a tax to support the public library and at the July 16 meeting the city council voted to follow through with financial support. The estimated yearly cost was $720. In July of 1919, the library board moved the library into a new building at Alabama and Second Streets (which you can see in this picture). Mrs. F. Amelia Henry served for nearly three decades as librarian."

After the fire destroyed both the library and the city hall, a new building was constructed at Fillmore and Highway 101 (now home of the Bandon museum) to serve as city hall, with the library occupying the southeast part of the building. The new city hall was built in 1970 and the library moved with it before relocating to its spacious new quarters in City Park.

The first Catholic church was built on that site in 1883 and was named Mary, Refuge of Sinners. At that time it was the only Catholic church on the coast between Astoria and the California border. It later became Holy Trinity. The original church survived the fire of 1914, although Bandon lost nearly two blocks of its business section, but it was destroyed in the 1936 fire and later rebuilt on the same property where it stands today.

I love this second picture, taken in 1958, because it is one of the best photos I've seen of the high school, which was destroyed in an arson fire in January of 1974.

Bandon High School, 1958
Bandon High School, 1958

At far right you can see the baseball grandstand. This high school was built in 1951 ... the year I was in seventh grade, and it housed the junior high school as well as the high school until construction work on Harbor Lights Junior High and the gym began in 1956.

Not sure where the third picture was taken because it does not appear to be the local high school baseball field, but it's a great picture of Coach Dick Sutherland talking to his ace, Hiemer Kiefer, who graduated in 1974. It looks like Dennis Williams behind Kiefer, but I'm just not sure.

Coach Dick Sutherland & Hiemer Kiefer
Coach Dick Sutherland & Hiemer Kiefer

*           *           *

It appears that the Bi-Mart Country Music Festival is finding it increasingly difficult to find a spot to relocate because of concerns about the magnitude of the crowds, and the problems that causes.

Festival sponsors have been trying to move the venue from Brownsville to Marion County, outside of Salem, but it now appears that Marion County plans to deny the move to farmland bordering the Ankeny Wildlife Reserve, according to a recent story in the Salem Statesman-Journal. The new venue was to be for the 2019 concert.

One of the major concerns was the problems caused by some 30,000 people trying to get to the concert; sponsors predicted that number could swell to 60,000 people.

The Bi-Mart Cape Blanco Country Music Festival was held on farmland in northern Curry County for several years.

I haven't heard what problems, if any, may have been encountered since the Curry festival moved to Central Point two years ago. This year's concert was held last week, July 26-29.

Shortly after I wrote this, I saw in the paper that their request to move the festival to Marion County was denied so they will remain in Brownsville until they find another site ... that could potentially hold the 60,000 people that they are predicting.

*           *           *

I saw a death notice last week for A. W. "Bill" Sweet of North Bend, who was raised in Bandon and at the Sweet ranch on Elk River. He died July 22 at the age of 98. A. W. was one of five children born to W. J. Sweet and his wife, Theresa Hanly Sweet, which included Piercy Sweet and Anne Felsheim, both of Bandon, who preceded him in death. His older sister, Helen Mayes, died many years ago. Among his survivors are his brother, Don Sweet of California, who is in his mid-90s. He and his late wife, Evelyn, had several children, including sons, Bill and Bob Sweet. I have not seen any service announcement although arrangements are under the direction of the Coos Bay Chapel. Coos County Commissioner John Sweet is a nephew and Sue Sweet of Langlois is a niece.

A.W. was associated with the Bank of Bandon and Western Bank for many years, and spearheaded the building of the Boys and Girls Club in the Coos Bay area. He was also the former chairman of the Oregon AAA board of directors.

He made the news five years ago when he spent 29 hours over an embankment after he'd run off the road when returning from a cabin on the Illinois River in the Agness area. Unable to climb up the bank, he spent the night in his vehicle. He was found unhurt after a sheriff's deputy saw that grass had been disturbed alongside the road.

*           *           *

My Comspan saga lives on. Last Tuesday I called to cancel the service at the Continuum as one of our tenants was tired of the poor service and had Spectrum (Charter) installed. The guy in the call center told me someone from Comspan would call me later that day to officially cancel the service.

That was five days ago ... and I'm still waiting.

*           *           *

I've heard some negative feedback about the July council meeting where one of the issues was a hearing on proposed changes to the Vacation Rental Dwelling ordinance, recommended by the planning commission.

Even if I attempted to tell readers what happened, it would only be my version. The best thing is to stream the meeting by going to coosmediacenter.viebit.com. It's all there, unedited and in living "color."

*           *           *

I attended the Celebration of Life for Buck Rogers Saturday at the Bandon Community Center. It was a wonderful, fitting tribute to a man who touched so many lives in the nearly five decades that the family lived here.

*           *           *

Goodnight Lucas posted on Facebook Friday letting people know that he had talked to a man who lives off Rosa Road who said his house was burglarized twice in one day last week. "His neighbor said he saw two young men on a four-wheeler (green in color), they wore shorts and were barefoot. Also a young woman. Keep a look out for them," said Lucas.

*           *           *

The Bandon Police Department also posted a warning, saying they had received a call Friday about a telephone scam. "The caller claims to be 'JoDee Tittle' of Southern Coos Hospital and Health District and asks to verify the age of the answering party to see if they would be eligible for a service or program." The hospital confirmed that they are making no such calls.

"Police remind citizens to never provide money or personal information to someone over the phone if you didn't solicit the call."

*           *           *

I talked with John Olson, owner of Tesoaria Vineyard & Winery of Roseburg, who announced several months ago that he planned to open a tasting room in Bandon in the building just east of Face Rock Creamery that previously housed Speakeasy 33.

Olson said his plans have changed and that he will be making his wine at the Bandon location, but he isn't sure yet about the retail side of the business.


Previous columns by Mary Schamehorn


bandon.tv