As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 27, 2017

Since I just finished narrating the Bandon Fire program at the museum, and since Sept. 26th is the 81st anniversary of the Bandon Fire, I am sharing a picture this week that I used in my program.

In fact, since I spent so much time preparing for today's program (which ended up being standing-room only), much of my column will be about the Bandon Fire.

I knew that most of the industrial area of Bandon (Moore Mill, the old Nestle's Food Plant, truck shop, etc.) did not burn in the fire, but it was not until I read Dow Beckham's book about the fire that I realized that it was my uncle, Clyde Stearns, who received much of the credit for saving that area.

He lived in the small cottage across the highway from what was then and is now the cheese factory/creamery. It is next to the big house, which was owned by the York family at the time of the fire, but was purchased by my father, Bill Dufort, in 1941, and that is where we grew up. Both houses survived the fire, along with a few houses up on the hill in the east Bandon, where both the high school and the adjacent gym also survived (see another picture).

The first picture I am sharing was one I purchased from the archives of The Oregonian, and shows the cheese factory destroyed on one side of the highway and the two houses on the other side still standing. You can even see the ladder on top of the cottage where Uncle Clyde was protecting his house.

Bandon Cheese Factory after the fire
Bandon Cheese Factory after the fire

Here is what happened, according to Beckham: "The Bandon fire won the overall victory, but Clyde Stearns and the Marshfield fire crew helped to save north Bandon and the Planing Mill, as well as the large Moore sawmill. The twisted metal of the creamery equipment showed that it was a miracle that saved Stearns' home as well as the Coats and York homes bordering Ferry Creek.

"Stearns fought the fire about his home until fear for the safety of his family caused him to take them to Bear Creek. The York Family and Mrs. Coats had already left. Stearns returned to his home. He climbed on the roof to fight sparks when the creamery ammonia tanks exploded. The blast blew him to the ground, but he was not seriously hurt. The Marshfield firemen arrived and started pumping out of Ferry Creek. They kept the fire from crossing north of the creek. Stearns and the firemen gained control of the fire thereby saving three houses. Their efforts kept the fire from destroying the main industrial plants of Bandon as well as many homes in that area."

My uncle was also active in public service, having served many years on both the city council and the port commission.

The second picture shows part of the industrial area that survived the fire.

Nestle's Food Company
Nestle's Food Company

This picture was obviously taken long before the fire because the Nestle's Food Company closed their doors in Bandon in the mid-'20s.

Here is what author Beckham says about that: "In December of 1922, the Nestle's Food Company reported a big and successful year. It manufactured 6,500,000 pounds of canned, condensed milk of several varieties shipped to all parts of the world. Nestle boasted of the capability to handle as much as 150,000 pounds of milk per day. With this large company establishing the largest plant of its kind in Bandon things looked bright for the dairy industry in Coos and Curry counties. Yet slightly over six years from the beginning, the condensery closed."

It appears, from another interview, that in 1924 the water got contaminated with yeast. Even though they brought in a chemist from California to test the water and try to solve the problem, their problems mounted.

"The company brought R.B. Bush, a chemist from San Francisco, to check on a serious contamination of yeast in the water that the plant was obtaining from the Ferry Creek reservoir. Foreign sales of Borden's sweetened milk became fermented and the company traced the problem to the Bandon plant. After struggling with the problem for a year it stopped production of the sweetened milk, and in October 1925, the temporary closure of the plant was announced." But the plant never reopened.

I am pretty sure the third picture was also taken before the fire, but since both Moore Mill (top) and Bandon High School and the adjacent gym, bottom, survived, it is hard to tell. But judging from the number of homes in the picture, I would say it was before the fire.

Before the fire
Before the fire

The fact that the high school and the gym survived the fire was a Godsend as the grade school (located about where Ocean Crest is now) was destroyed. According to one person, the first and second graders went to school in empty areas of the high school, while the other elementary school youngsters attended school in makeshift rooms (the walls did not go up to the ceiling) in the gymnasium. The high school was utilized until about 1950 when the new high school (eighth through 12th) opened across town and served the community until it was destroyed in an arson fire in January of 1974. Even after the new high school was built, we continued to be bused across town for PE in the old gym.

*           *           *

I learned just after I had finished my column last week that Jack Hutchens died early Monday morning in Bandon after battling cancer. I have known the Hutchens family for many years and had Jack's younger brother, Jim, in my photography class during the '70s. I got to know Jack pretty well when he served as the boat puller for my ex-husband Ron Schamehorn, and learned to appreciate his quiet sense of humor. Alice and Jackman Hutchens moved their family to Bandon in 1951. Jack was a member of the BHS Class of 1970, where he played football. He served in the U.S. Army and was a commercial fisherman from San Diego to the Bering Sea. His sister, Pat, remembers him as a "hunter, beachcomber, lover of nature and someone who loved to feed wild animals."

Among his survivors are four sisters, Alice, Pat, Jane and Sandy, and a brother, Glenn. Jim died in his 30s.

*           *           *

I also received a call from Pat Richert saying that her brother-in-law, Ervin L. "Butch" Richert died last Saturday in Red Bluff, Calif., at the age of 79. Butch graduated from Bandon High School in 1956. He was the oldest of Ervin and Jessie Richert's three sons; Fred and John died some years ago.

Butch is survived by his wife.

*           *           *

After reading an editorial comment in the Register-Guard last week indicating that gubernatorial candidate Knute Beuhler did not have a clear understanding of PERS (Public Employees Retirement System), I Googled the website where all PERS salaries are listed and determined that the writer, Pat Albright (a retired teacher), failed to mention that he was receiving a monthly benefit of $5,280, which amounts to $64,357 a year for the rest of his life. And that was 129 percent of his final salary of $49,219. That does not include his Social Security benefits.

I signed the letter as mayor since it is cities and school districts, like Bandon, across the state who will suffer as a result of an unfunded liability of $24 billion (yes, you read that right).

I also included the name of the website for those who wanted to check my figures or look up anyone receiving PERS ( My letter was the top letter in the Sunday edition of the R-G.

Needless to say, Mr. Albright was not happy. He immediately emailed each of my fellow councilors to say it was "ethically questionable" of me to say I was the mayor (the city attorney laughed). He added that my comments were misleading and false. "To represent those comments as a position of the City of Bandon is inappropriate unless the council has taken such a position publicly."

Actually, Mr. Albright, most members of the city council are extremely concerned about the impact that the PERS debt will have on our ability to provide services to our community. To not be concerned would be foolish. But the only thing I pointed out was how much he made.

I immediately challenged his assumption that my comments were misleading and false. He finally admitted that he does "not see" $639.44 of the amount that he receives every month. In another email he called it Fake News.

I responded: "This business about Fake News is hogwash. You receive that amount in PERS benefits; how it is distributed is none of my business," earlier pointing out to him that I was well aware that the part he does not see is the part that is withheld to pay his federal income tax.

I later said I would be happy to write to the RG editors and tell them that part of his $5,280 monthly check goes to pay his taxes.

His final email was: "no need to inform the RG. I am satisfied that we have found a level of agreement and that you are offering to provide clarity."

Actually, any thinking person would realize that if he receives a huge check like that some of it would be withheld to pay the taxes.

Hard to find any Fake News, or misleading and false information there. Sometimes the truth hurts . . .

While going on the website, I learned that a former OHSU physician receives monthly PERS benefits of $55,959 while former Oregon AD Mike Bellotti receives $45,644 a month (for his lifetime). The equates to $671,514 for the doctor and $547,735 for Bellotti.

And we wonder why PERS is and will continue to be the "elephant in the room" until the Oregon legislature tackles the issue head on.

In the meantime, we all pay for these lofty (ridiculous) benefits.

Another letter in the same issue, written by Hugh Cochran of Eugene, said it best: "Unless politicians stop letting the public employee unions dictate to our politicians how to handle PERS, nothing will change. We need a 'start over' from inception in 1942 when it began as a viable and needed employee retirement system. It can be done. Nothing happens till someone does something and right now nothing credible is being done."

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 20, 2017

I know that some of the pictures I share each week have appeared in my column previously, and this is probably one of them. But there are always people who haven't seen them. This picture was taken in 1973 at the top of the hill heading north out of town as O.A. "Mose" Dunn is busy tearing down the old Dunn's Auto Court (motel).

Tearing down Dunn's Auto Court
Tearing down Dunn's Auto Court

That is now the home of the RV park directly across the highway from Bandon Veterinary Hospital. In addition to the rooms, Mose and Naomi Dunn also operated a small store, which, if memory serves me, faced onto June Avenue. Since we lived at the foot of the hill (across from the cheese factory) I would often walk up there to buy my penny candy.

I'm sorry to say I don't know either of the men pictured in the second photo in front of the Bandon Historical Society museum, taken in June of 1980, when the museum was located in the Masonic Building.

Bandon Historical Society Museum, 1980
Bandon Historical Society Museum, 1980

The museum was in the east portion of the building, where Spirit of Oregon is now located, across from what served as the Western World office for many years until around the mid-'60s when we moved up on the hill into the building now occupied by the produce section of McKay's Market.

The museum was founded in 1976, and although they had hoped to find the financing to construct a building where Fred Carleton's office is now located, Shannon Applegate Mueller (one of the founders and a noted historian) felt they needed a more "public face" so they moved into the Masonic building. After several years, they were invited by the Port of Bandon to move into the upstairs area of the Old Coast Guard building. When that didn't work out, they moved to their current home, at Fillmore and Highway 101, which was the second building put up after the Fire of 1936 and served as City Hall and the fire station until the new one (present) was dedicated in 1970.

I love the third picture because it so clearly shows what that end of Second Street looked like in the '50s. This picture was taken in December of 1959 as Santa (I think it was Bob Hiley) races across the street in a torrential downpour to distribute candy to the youngsters waiting under the awning at Erdman's City Market (now the shuttered Lloyd's building).

Santa races across Second Street, 1959
Santa races across Second Street, 1959

Ironically, the dome building at the far right behind the fire truck was Marvin Leach's Bakery ... and it is now the home of Coastal Mist. The building next to it was formerly Thornton's, and next to it was Van Spiller's and later Carl's barber shop. Those buildings were torn down to make way for the larger building, which now houses Coastal Mist on the west side and Second Street Gallery on the east side. That building is for sale for, I think, about $795,000 by Grover Hatcher, who also owns Winter River Books just down the street.

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If, like me, you've been wondering what the big crane is doing at the boat basin, I now have the answer. Port Commission President Reg Pullen said, "This is the long-awaited Corps of Engineers project to mark the pile dike across from the Coast Guard Station with three pilings.

"According to Bob Fisher, there were three pile dikes originally, all designed to force the river over to the south to allow for ships and barges to access Moore Mill. The main one is now a navigational hazard," said Pullen, explaining that a previous port employee had all of the wooden pilings marking it removed. "Bergerson Construction was awarded the $450,000 contract to drive the pilings. They may also replace a couple of pilings in the marina, as well, saving the port some money on mobilization costs.

"I would have much preferred that this money was allocated for future dredging, but the COE doesn't work that way. Once money is earmarked for a certain use, it can't be shifted. And this should make the river more user-friendly to visiting mariners," Pullen said.

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The new law regarding mobile electronic devices goes into effect Oct. 1. It is, of course, designed to get a handle on distracted driving, which has been attributed to an increase in the number of traffic deaths in Oregon over the last couple of years.

Drivers will not be able to use or even hold an electronic device.

It will be illegal to drive while holding or using a mobile electronic device (cell phone, tablet, GPS, laptop). This refers to an electronic device that is not permanently installed in a motor vehicle ... which is capable of text messaging, voice communication, entertainment, navigation, accessing the Internet or producing electronic mail.

The new law does not apply to: using hands-free or built-in devices if 18 or older; use of a single touch or swipe to activate or deactivate the device; while providing or summoning medical help if no one else is available to make the call; when parked safely at the side of the road ... but NOT when stopped at a stop light, stop sign, in traffic, etc.

The law also does not apply to truck or bus drivers following the federal rules for CDL holders; using a two-way radio: CB users, school bus drivers, utility truck drivers in the scope of employment, ambulance or emergency vehicle operators in the scope of employment; Police, fire, EMS providers in the scope of employment (and in a personal vehicle when responding to an emergency call), and HAM radio operators, age 18 years or older.

The new law also increases the penalties for those caught using their phones while driving.

It now appears they "mean business," and all I can say is: it's about time!!

*           *           *

I always love it when our town, its restaurants and other amenities are recognized on a statewide basis (or in the case of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort receive national recognition).

Alloro Wine Bar was among the 10 best wine bars in Oregon, when they came in No. 9, which is quite an honor.

We have eaten there several times in the last couple of weeks, and I can certainly see why they have received recognition.

Bandon is, indeed, fortunate to have so many great restaurants. No matter what you are looking for, or how much you want to pay, there is a favorite restaurant here.

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I attended the 103rd anniversary party at the Bandon Library Saturday, which was very well attended. The little pig, dressed as a princess, was a big hit with the children, but also brought a smile from us older folks.

There were lots of interesting exhibits, including one which included many of the photos from my collection in the display put together by the Bandon Historical Society. I loved the portable typewriter and the old telephone, which the younger generation probably have never even seen.

Friends of the Library served cake, cookies and punch, there was a silent auction, and fiddle music was provided by Bob Shaffar, Kenny Croes and "friends", including Linda Eickhoff (the popular gal who mans the front desk at City Hall) and her children.

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I also want to remind people about the Bandon Fire Program at the museum on Sunday afternoon, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m.

A highlight of the afternoon's program, which will include many photos from before and after the Fire, will be a letter written shortly after the Fire by attorney and judge George P. Topping, who built and operated the Silver Spray Dance Hall in the 1920s and '30s, and was one of the founders of the Bank of Bandon. He was also chairman of the school board when the "new" school was built in 1909 on the site where Ocean Crest now sits.

I will be reading from Dow Beckham's book "Bandon By-the-Sea Hope and Perseverance in a Southwestern Oregon Town ."

In it he talks about the new school.

"In the years from 1900 to 1910, Bandon's population increased from 813 to 2,126. Reflecting this increase in population, on June 18, 1909, Bandon's School District Number 54 dedicated a new school housing all 12 grades. The new building replaced one built in 1893 on a bluff near the U.S. Coast Guard quarters. The new building had 12 classrooms, a chemistry lab and an auditorium seating 400 people; it cost $30,000."

It is interesting to note that over 100 years later, the population stands at just 3,134 people.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 13, 2017

The first picture I am sharing was taken in January of 1957 on the hill overlooking the Coast Guard Station and the Coquille River. It was known as the skywatch building, where people who were members of the GOC (Ground Observer Corps) would take turns observing activity on the river and beyond.

Skywatch Building, 1957
Skywatch Building, 1957

I have no idea when it was torn down, or why, but I guess it made way for the Coast Guard's trailer installation that sat for many years in that location after the Coast Guard building was shuttered. Later, as we all know, the Port of Bandon took possession of the Coast Guard building, and restored it to its previous glory.

The second picture, taken in 1975, reminded me very much of this year's Cranberry Festival.

Saturday Street Sale, 1975
Saturday Street Sale, 1975

That section of Second Street, between Delaware and Chicago was filled with food vendors, tables, the stage and many people. The Saturday Street Sale also drew lots of people to town. As you can see, things have changed a lot in that short block, as the Bandon Shoe Repair Shop (formerly Tuttle's fountain) and the Bandon Theatre are both things of the past, and those properties are pretty much the vacant lot between the Washed Ashore/Broken Anchor building and the Bandon Coffee Cafe.

I just happened across this great picture of "Mr. Peewee Baseball" Ernie Luther, as he watched a little league game in 1970.

Mr. Peewee Baseball
Mr. Peewee Baseball" Ernie Luther, 1970

Ernie and his wife, Dona, owned the Beach Junction Grocery south of town, but every spare minute of his time was spent at the little league baseball park or working behind the scenes to ensure that the program was successful. He was a real treasure . . .

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Wow. If ever the weather cooperated for a Cranberry Festival . . . after days of unhealthy smoke, some rain and lightning and a lot of clouds . . . it was Saturday. I can't remember there ever being such a gorgeous day for the parade and the Saturday afternoon events. It was perfect and the town was crowded. Unfortunately, the mist moved in Saturday night, but it did not stop a huge crowd from enjoying the street dance. And Sunday was also bright and beautiful . . .but a bit windy.

The Chamber group that puts on the festival, headed by Julie Miller, deserves a huge vote of thanks.

Because of the Open Burning Proclamation, issued by me at the request of Fire Chief Lanny Boston and City Manager Robert Mawson, at least four of the regular food vendors could not set up downtown Saturday because no open flame/barbecue or propane was allowed.

Julie said she understood why it was necessary, and that they would help reimburse the vendors who had already bought a lot of food in preparation for the festival . . . when they learned on Thursday evening about the fire safety restrictions.

It was also great to see people that I hadn't seen in years, including members of the Class of 1967 who met Friday night at the museum as part of their 50-year reunion. Saturday night I went out to the Barn to visit Cathy Strycker Staten, her husband Dee and other members of the Class of 1977, who were celebrating their 40-year reunion.

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I did take time out from the Festival Saturday afternoon to go home and watch the Oregon Ducks host Nebraska. Talk about the tale of two halves: this was it. Oregon roared to a 42-14 lead by halftime ... and then failed to put up a single point in the second half, while Nebraska came within a single TD of tying the game, which ended with the Ducks eking out the 42-35 win.

It was another heartbreaking loss Saturday night, in rainy Corvallis, as Oregon State fell to Minnesota 48-14. It could be a long season for the Beavers in spite of efforts by Coach Gary Andersen to shore up the program. In his three years as head coach, he has yet to win a game on the road. He replaced long-time head coach and Corvallis High School star Mike Riley, who is now the coach at Nebraska.

An interesting tidbit: Riley led the Corvallis Spartans as the starting quarterback to consecutive state title games in 1969 and 1970. They lost to the Medford Black Tornado in 1969, but won the state title against the same club the following year.

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I was sad to learn that Debbie Winters Llewellyn died this week after losing her valiant struggle with cancer. She was a member of the Bandon High School Class of 1975, and she and her husband, Chris Llewellyn, operated a very successful real estate business here for many years. Later they built a beautiful home in Mexico and enjoyed life to the fullest. She became an accomplished wildlife photographer, which was just one of her many accomplishments.

Among her survivors are her mother, Edith Winters; and brothers, Barry and Dan. Another brother, Steve, died years ago as did her father, Roger Winters.

Debbie made friends wherever she went, but none were as close as her Bandon High School classmates, who remained her dear friends to the end.

Even though she was quite a bit younger than I, we were always good friends and I remember a special Thanksgiving that I spent with Debbie and her family many years ago. She will be missed by all who knew her.

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It didn't surprise me to learn that Speakeasy 33 had closed its doors. Although their specialty drinks were a real treat, their prices were high, and people balked at the fact that 18 percent was added to each bill.

Personally, I would have preferred that they just add the cost of doing business to their drinks and food, rather than tack it on as a fee.

Since a lot of people leave a 20 percent tip, they might have generated more income had they just charged the price on the menu ... and let people add the tip.

I am sure that in a larger market and in a more visible location, they will probably do very well, and I wish them well in their next venture, whatever and wherever that may be.

*           *           *

Earlier I referred to the proclamation involving open burning, which is effective until further notice. It basically prohibits any outside open burning and, of course, fireworks.

Prohibited are all open fires, including barbecue appliances, charcoal, cooking fires and warming fires, outdoor patio and yard fireplaces, fire pits and smokers, decorative and ornamental fires, ceremonial and recreational fires, and any other open flame fires.

It does allow people to use lawnmowers and tractors, chain saws and other power saws for cutting, grinding or welding between the hours of 7 a.m. and noon.

In spite of the fact that we did have rain (and lightning) last week, the fire chief says fire danger remains very high.

*           *           *

Sunset Magazine had an article recently titled "Top 14 Unsung Beach Towns," and Bandon was listed as No. 1.

The others listed in order were Astoria, Sequim, Wash., Capitola, Calif., Seabrook, Wash., Depoe Bay, Cayucos, Calif., Westport, Wash., Cannon Beach, Newport, and Cambria, Carpenteria and Elk, Calif., and No. 14, Port Orford.

Here is what the writer had to say about Bandon, condensed a bit: "As any upstanding Oregonian knows, the real old school Oregon coast lies down south, in quintessential Oregon beach towns like Bandon. You expect festivity: seaside carnival barkers, maybe a roller coaster. But actually ... nothing is happening in Bandon. Tourists schlump down the street sipping coffee at the mouth of the Coquille River. Seagulls squawk on the Boardwalk, and a few sprightly old ladies sample the gratis cranberry candies at the Chamber of Commerce. The world slows down, and you notice things. Like the vibrant green algae growing on the rocks and look down, for Bandon's best beachcombing is here. Bandon's beaches can seem otherworldly, like a backdrop to a Maurice Sendak story. Stairs lead you down to the sand. Here is a little cave that someone has turned into a lean-to, lining thin driftwood logs across the front."

People might not have thought nothing happens here if they were here for the Cranberry Festival . . but we knew what the writer meant about Bandon being a special place.

*           *           *

Found an interesting bit of history in an April 1937 Western World. Bear in mind this was only seven months after the Bandon Fire of Sept. 26, 1936, but I still thought it was interesting.

Here is what it said: "Only Two Beer Retail Places for Bandon. No more beer sales places will be allowed to open in Bandon as long as the present two retail establishments are operating, according to action at the last meeting of the city council. The council decided to limit the number of taverns in Bandon to two."

Not sure what the reason was for the council's action but it seems a bit heavy-handed to me.

I decided to go back to the Centennial Banquet program of Feb. 18, 1991, which lists everyone who has ever served on the council and what years they served.

I learned that Lynn Osborne (Nancy and Donny Goddard's grandfather) was police chief; John Fasnacht was city manager, and Ed Capps (Maud, Emily and Bruce's grandfather) was mayor.

Members of the city council were Charlie E. Schroeder, Ralph T. Moore (of the family that founded Moore Mill), Clay Garoutte, W. R. Ward, J.F. Kronenberg (Jean Kronenberg Ritenour's father) and Otto Shindler (the grandfather of Bo Shindler and his siblings).

I looked in Dow Beckham's book and he lists the names of the councilors at the time of the Fire (a few months earlier) and he says George Kronenberg was on the council. But according to my research, George served on the council from 1944 to 1946, and it was, in fact, his brother, Jack, who was on the council at that time.

That's enough of a history lesson for one day.

*           *           *

A special shout-out to the people who stopped me during the Festival to tell me how much they love my column, and especially the old photos of Bandon which appear weekly at and in Western World.

Thanks, your comments make it all worthwhile ....

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

September 06, 2017

The first picture I am sharing this week was taken in 1976 when Gerry's Restaurant was just the ice cream shop and the dining room. It was not until later that the expansive lounge was built. Today this is the location of The Asian Garden.

Gerry's Restaurant, 1976
Gerry's Restaurant, 1976

Gerry and Trudy Fraser and their family operated this popular restaurant for many years, and we all remember Gerry's home-made ice cream. In the background you can see the building, now owned by Dave Reed, at 101 and 11th, which housed Richard's Photography studio and Larry Means' insurance office.

Although I searched my files for pictures of the original Old Town arches, which were built and carved by the late Frank Tucker, I could only find this colored photo, which I took in 2008, which shows the new arches.

Old Town arches, 2008
Old Town arches, 2008

There will be a celebration of life and potluck honoring Frank this Sunday, Sept. 10, at 3 p.m. at The Barn in City Park. All are welcome and people are asked to bring their favorite Frank Tucker dish.

I have a special reason for sharing the third picture since the Hospital Auxiliary no longer exists as a separate entity, having been merged into the Foundation. This picture of Auxiliary members was taken in May of 1961 as they helped at the open house for the new hospital (overlooking the lighthouse).

Hospital Auxiliary, 1961
Hospital Auxiliary, 1961

From left are my mother, Martha Dufort, Joanne Metcalfe, Lola Beazizo, unknown woman and Fanny Groshong Hopson. Below is the story of recent developments involving the Auxiliary.

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Two long-time members of the Southern Coos Hospital Auxiliary are still dismayed over a letter they received in early June from District CEO JoDee Tittle officially ending the more than 60-year relationship between the hospital and the auxiliary. I was particularly saddened by the tone of the letter since both my mother and grandmother were auxiliary members (Pink Ladies) in the '60s and I know how hard they worked to assist the local hospital.

Auxiliary secretary Barbara Coulson and long-time treasurer Nina McNeil will admit that their 21 members were aging and sometimes it was hard to find and recruit volunteers, but they always managed to perform their many duties: operate the hospital gift shop, host the art receptions, help out with the golf event, assist at the flu clinic and do whatever else was needed.

The letter, dated June 8, pretty much set the tone in the first paragraph: "Acting as Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Coos Hospital & Health Center, I instruct the Southern Coos Hospital Auxiliary to merge all operations and philanthropic activities with the Southern Coos Health Foundation effective July 1, 2017."

This would have been the perfect opportunity to thank the dedicated corps of volunteers for their hundreds/thousands of hours of tireless work on behalf of the hospital, but that did not happen.

She did point out that "Auxiliary members who choose to continue as volunteers will not be required to pay dues; they will be encouraged to make contributions to the Foundation."

Wow, what a concession! How about talking about the many thousands of dollars they have contributed to the hospital through equipment and outright grants, including more than $70,000 from the gift shop since 2004.

In the letter, Tittle said that the gift shop is currently being remodeled and will reopen July 5 under the management of the Foundation. So far that has not happened.

In the transition plan that was attached to the letter detailing plans for the "merger," there is a requirement that the Auxiliary transfer their assets to the Foundation. McNeil, who had served as treasurer since 2002, said they had about $3500 in the bank, which they were required to turn over to the Foundation.

Under "Communication Plan," the letter said that beginning in June 2017 "we will send out a press release to local and regional media outlets. We will invite the editor of our local paper to write a story about the history of the Auxiliary and how the merger will work to improve volunteerism at the hospital.

"We will also create a section of the SCHHC website dedicated to the history of the Auxiliary and maintain past Auxiliary archives. We will also begin advertising the opening of the ... gift shop in June, in anticipation of the grand opening on July 5."

So far, three months later, none of this has happened. And that is why I decided to share their story.

Foundation CEO Scott McEachern told me that the opening of the enlarged gift shop has been delayed because the "local glass contractor has been a little slow in getting up the new walls." Because of that he said it delayed the stories and the press release, but they still have plans to honor the Auxiliary members, and bring the Auxiliary into the Foundation.

Coulson said, "There is no longer an Auxiliary. It was not brought into the Foundation. It was eliminated. We have no officers, no assets, and NO say."

Coulson, in a letter submitted to Western World on Aug. 16, said, in part, and condensed for brevity, "On June 8, the Auxiliary met for the last time. JoDee Tittle required the Auxiliary to be merged as of July 1 and to turn over all funds, merchandise and other assets to the Foundation. I expected the foundation to announce these developments shortly after July 1."

She said people keep asking her when the auxiliary is going to open the new gift shop. "I tell them the auxiliary is no longer in operation. They will have to talk to the Foundation about the gift shop."

McNeil told me that "our members did not see this coming. The officers were first made aware of this at a May 11 meeting and were caught off guard by her announcement. I can only assume the board approved this. The Auxiliary voted to accept her instructions as we had no choice. We only operate at the hospital's discretion. Some of our members were OK with the merger and spoke up for it; however, others were not and voted for it because they had no other choice. We worded the motion because of her instructions," said McNeil, a native of Bandon.

The three hospital board members that I talked to had not seen the letter to the Auxiliary. The only mention I can find in the minutes, dating back to June 29, was in the CEO report: "The hospital Auxiliary has merged with the Foundation to form a corps of volunteers. The new shop should be in place by the July board meeting."

Since March of 2004, McNeil said they have given $74,747.65 to the hospital, plus the merchandise on hand in the gift shop that they had already paid for.

McNeil said the reason they had not contacted me before is because they were waiting for something to appear in the paper, and when, after three months, nothing did, Barbara emailed me with their concerns.

It's hard to believe that a 60-year relationship between the Hospital and the Auxiliary could be ended with so little praise or even acknowledgement of what these women have contributed in terms of volunteer hours and money.

I personally want to thank them for their many years of service, and wish that this could have been handled differently.

I do want to add that having served twice on the hospital board, beginning back in 1962, I have only the highest regard for the local hospital.

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It's hard to believe that just a few days after Labor Day, it's time for the Cranberry Festival, but since it is generally held the second weekend in September, it's this weekend: Sept. 8-10. I know all of us are praying for rain because of the extreme fire danger and the heavy smoke from fires all around us, but maybe it will hold off long enough to have good weather for the festival.

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Speaking of fire, we have all heard or read volumes about the Bandon Fire of Sept. 26, 1936, which virtually destroyed the town. I will be narrating a special program on the Fire at the Bandon Historical Society Museum on Sunday, Sept. 24, at 2 p.m.

In past years, this has primarily been an opportunity for survivors to tell their stories, and they are certainly invited to attend this program. But, with pictures and stories, I will try to answer a lot of questions that newcomers have about the Fire, where it started and why it spread so fast.

We have also received, from a descendant, a letter written Oct. 19, 1936, by Geo. P. Topping, who built and operated the Silver Spray Dance Hall in the 1920s and '30s before it burned in the Fire. He was also one of the six founders of the Bank of Bandon. This is a treasure and I can't wait to read it to our audience.

The museum will open at 1, so come early, look at the many outstanding exhibits and get a good seat. and if you have enjoyed the program the last several years, don't think you'll be bored because it will be a different program about a familiar subject.

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I had not heard that Phyllis Moody died two months ago until I saw a post from her daughter, Linda, on Facebook Sunday. Phyllis had lived on the top of Prosper hill for many years and was a friend of all who knew her. She also leaves two sons, Mitch and Ron, as well as extended family.

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By the way, I am looking for a space in a Bandon garage where I could park my BMW Z3 for the winter. If you have extra space, let me know where it is and how much you would charge. Thanks. My email is

Previous columns by Mary Schamehorn