As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 26, 2011

We have all heard the most famous lines of President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech 50 years ago: “Ask not what your country can do for you. But rather what you can do for your country.”

As I was listening to a replay of that famous speech this week, I was struck most by another line:

“Civility is not a sign of weakness.”

Now, more than ever in the history of our country, we need to take those important words to heart.

It’s time for all of us to stop pointing the finger at each other and acknowledge that we’ve all been guilty, at one time or another, of failing to be civil in our dealings – whether in a political debate or just everyday interactions with our friends and relatives.

JFK closed by saying: “Ask not what America can do for you. But together what we can do for the freedom of man – where the strong are just and the weak secure.”

Those are powerful words to live by.

*           *           *

I mentioned to a friend on Friday that I was planning to attend Hazel Colgrove’s funeral that afternoon. “I’ve heard that name, but I don’t think I knew her,” was her response.

Then I mentioned Hazel’s wonderful stash of driftwood, glass floats and other collectibles along Beach Loop Drive, just north of Sunset Motel.

And instantly my friend’s eyes brightened. “Oh, of course I knew her,” she said.

Hazel’s oldest daughter Colleen and I were born three days apart, and if I remember correctly, it was in the same hospital right here in Bandon. That’s how long I’ve known the Colgrove family.

Hazel was our room mother when Colleen and I were in grade school, and she was loved by everyone.

Over the years, when I was working for Western World as either a reporter or the editor, I would often be taking pictures of Hazel. She was well-known as an ardent beachcomber, and her finds would more often than not be worthy of space in the paper.

She became famous for her wonderful cranberry catsup, which her youngest daughter, Paula, still makes today. Hazel’s memory will live on in “Hazel’s Cranberry Catsup,” and with the hundreds of friends she made at her little shop along Beach Loop Drive, where she spent the last 40 years of her long (93 years) and happy life.

*           *           *

My boyfriend and I attended the annual Bandon Youth Center auction Saturday night. It was a great event, and there were so many wonderful auction items. It’s just a shame that it was being held the same night as the Bandon Showcase presentation of “Side Street Strutters,” because the crowd was relatively small compared to earlier auctions.

But people were generous and some, like Barbara Dodrill, left their bid with a friend as they headed off to the Sprague.

The teen center’s long-time auctioneer, Steve Underdown, wasn’t able to take part this year because of his health, but Bandon businessman Clyde Showalter stepped up to fill in. Clyde auctioned off the items while his wife, Colleen, and youth center director Harv Shubothe took them around the room so people could see what they were bidding on.

*           *           *

I recently received an interesting email from BHS graduate Sharon Ward Moy, who was passing on another from Marilyn Wade Bamford, asking if any of us remembered a story about a mirage over the ocean at Bandon many years ago.

Another grad, Jill Chappell Sumerlin, weighed in: “Marilyn and I were out at that little house at the end of Garfield. We saw an image toward the lighthouse and ran back to the Wade house and then Jack Wade (the former long-time Bandon postmaster) joined us. He recognized the buildings and the bridge, and said it was San Francisco. I don’t remember if a photograph was taken, but he looked at it with binoculars, too.”

I hadn’t recalled anything like that while working at Western World (where I started my newspaper career in 1959), but apparently Marilyn and Jill were little, so they are guessing it was before my time with the paper as they aren’t that much younger than I am.

Sharon responded to Marilyn after she asked her if she remembered the event: “Yikes, Mare, I do not. When are they coming to take you away? Kidding, of course. It’s times like this I wish so badly my dad were here.” Sharon’s father was the late Jack Ward, who, like Jack Wade, was postmaster here for many, many years.

I’m wondering if anyone out there has ever heard about this … or if anyone has seen a mirage of this nature. I personally haven’t, but that doesn’t mean they don’t occur.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 19, 2011

I was reminded again this afternoon, while eating at Pacific Blues, how many people miss the wonderful seafood retail business in the “old blue building.” I was talking to a couple from Douglas County, who’d come to Bandon for the day, something they do several times a year. And they asked me where the seafood business had gone.

I’ve been asking this question myself and last week I received an e-mail from Gina Dearth, general manager of the Port of Bandon.

She told me she’d had several meetings with Jim and Cheryl Gagnon about fish delivery once a week to Bandon. “We think the best way to move forward is to assemble a list of interested people on a weekly basis. It would also help to know what people are looking for: bottom fish, halibut, etc.” Gina said people can contact her at the port:, or contact the Gagnons directly at

Gina said the fishing industry changes quickly. “The feds have now mandated that drag boats, the fishermen who target bottom fish, must have a paid observer ($350 a day) on board when they fish. They have already moved the drag fleet way offshore; this was done several years ago. This is a huge expense for them; they must also buy them room and board, etc. This new law will cut the drag fleet way down and make it even harder than it already is to obtain product.”

Gina is hoping that we can put together a “client list” of 35 to 40 people a week. “Otherwise the Gagnons are working for nothing. This will take all of us to make it happen,” Gina said.

I know it’s not like going down to the blue building to buy your fish, but this might work if enough people are willing to sign up.

*           *           *

A lot of small communities don’t have the same “problem” that Bandon has: having two wonderful events on the same night. But that’s what is happening Saturday night when Bandon Showcase presents the much heralded singing group, Side Street Strutters, who will perform at the Sprague Theater, and the Bandon Youth Center is hosting its popular auction, which is held every year about this time. This is the youth center’s biggest fundraiser, and it will be held at Harbortown Events Center.

*           *           *

Bandon women are reminded of the 8th annual Women’s Health Day, set for Saturday, Feb. 5. The subject of the event, to be held at Harbortown Events Center, is “Hormones: Friend or Foe?” Members of the panel, who will be discussing the issue, are nurse practitioners Mary Anker of Bandon Community Health Center, Anne Morgan of Bay Area Hospital and Suzie Yost, who works out of the North Bend Medical Center Clinic in Bandon.

People can call Mary Kemp at 541-347-1601 for information or to register; pre-registration of $10 is required. The day will include a lunch, silent auction and door prizes. It’s sponsored by Southern Coos Hospital and Health Center and Southern Coos Health Foundation.

*           *           *

Every time I see a plastic bag caught on a branch along the highway, I wish that Oregon would ban plastic bags. “San Jose, Calif., last week adopted the strictest ban on plastic bags in California, putting the Silicon Valley city at the forefront of the widening debate over the environmental impacts of an item many people use and discard every day,” according to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle Dec. 15.

The City Council voted 10-1 to prohibit supermarkets, pharmacies, corner shops and others from distributing single-use plastic bags or face fines up to $1,000 after a third violation.

I know there are pros and cons, and opponents point out that replacement paper bags take trees to manufacture and that cloth bags carry germs. I would imagine that if people carry dripping meat or chicken in their cloth bags, there could be a problem if they aren’t washed frequently, but it’s certainly not hard to throw them in the wash.

I think we have to start somewhere, and this seems like as good a place as any.

The biggest opponents, of course, are plastic bag producers and the American Chemistry Council.

*           *           *

Bi-Mart has gotten free advertising worth thousands of dollars as they dangle plans to build a new store in front of local communities. First it was Coquille. For several years, the City of Coquille was pretty certain that Bi-Mart was going to build on the former Georgia-Pacific Mill site. Community members and business owners weighed in. Some wanted to see the department store locate in their community. Others, for obvious reasons, didn’t want the competition.

But Bi-Mart never built a store in Coquille.

Next it was Bandon. Bi-Mart officials met with the City of Bandon on several occasions, but basically nothing has happened.

Now they’ve announced plans to build a store in Brookings.

This time it appears that they really mean to build as they are in the process of purchasing a $685,000 piece of property from the City of Brookings, and plan to have their new store finished by the end of the year.

I learned after writing this that not only does Bi-Mart plan to build a store in Brookings, but they are also continuing with their plans to build a store in Bandon.

I know not everyone will be happy about this, and I certainly understand why. Our merchants are having a real struggle, and I just pray that most of them will still be around when spring comes. On the plus side, people from Port Orford and Langlois may come to Bandon to shop … rather than go to Coos Bay. And that could be good for all of our shops.

*           *           *

Many of us feel that people ought to be able to own a handgun or a rifle to protect themselves. But if we are not going to do something about the pathetic state of health care for the mentally ill in this country, the least we can do is to ban high-power semi-automatic weapons and other assault weapons, which are capable of firing off 33 shots without reloading. What possible purpose do weapons of this caliber have for the average American? If people can’t protect themselves and their family with the standard magazine or a six-shot revolver, they shouldn’t own a gun.

No matter what side of the gun issue you are on, we must move toward the middle and ban these high-power weapons, which are so often turned on innocent people.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 12, 2011

As most of you know, Steve Underdown is seriously ill and unable to work. He and his family own Bandon Golf Supply, and he’s well-known in golfing circles as a golf teacher and top-notch golfer, but more than that, people know him as a wonderful, caring father, husband and friend. His wife, Cathy, is the past president of the Bandon Chamber of Commerce and has appeared in a number of performances at the Sprague Theater.

Nora Thomason, a friend of the Underdown family, and other members of the Bandon Dunes Golf Club are sponsoring a fundraiser for the Underdown family to be held at The Barn/Community Center on Saturday, Feb. 5, beginning at 6. The evening will include food and a no-host bar, a putting contest, entertainment, a silent auction and a live auction. Admission will be $15 a person, or people can purchase a table for 10 for $250. More information about how to purchase tickets will be released later.

An account has also been set up in the Underdown’s name at Evergreen Bank, located inside Ray’s Food Place at the Bandon Shopping Center.

Let’s hope that a large crowd turns out for the fundraiser to help the family, who has given so much to our community.

*           *           *

Just as I was writing my column, I received an email from Bill Russell urging people to tune into Oregon Public Broadcasting’s Nova series Wednesday (Jan. 12 at 8 p.m.) to watch “The Deadliest Earthquakes, which includes a segment on the Cascadia Subduction Zone Earthquake and tsunami as well as Cannon Beach’s innovative solution to save lives by creating the first tsunami evacuation building in the United States. What is especially important about this program is its showing of the magnitude of the risk for the Pacific Northwest and the fact that we are developing innovative solutions to mitigate that risk. But protecting coastal residents and visitors is only one aspect of preparing for Cascadia. Even as the Pacific Northwest wrestles with a formidable budget shortfall we must find ways to seismically upgrade our schools and bridges, etc., and otherwise create the resilience to cope with his disaster, said Bill.

*           *           *

Can you imagine what it would be like if, at 1:30 in the morning, your neighbors decided to play their music at decibels so high you could hear it throughout your house. Unfortunately, if you live outside an incorporated city (in rural Coos County) that is a likely scenario since Coos County has no noise ordinance.

Time and again, people call the sheriff’s office to complain about loud music – generally in the middle of the night – only to be greeted with the words: sorry, there’s no ordinance against it.

It would seem to me that rural residents should be able to enjoy relative peace and quiet just as much as we inside the city limits do, and most counties I am sure do have a noise ordinance of some kind.

But not Coos County.

*           *           *

Bandon residents were surprised to see a huge plume of black smoke billowing up from the area around Oregon Avenue Saturday afternoon. Rumors ran rampant. One person said an ambulance and several fire trucks were on the scene, which was apparently true. But no one was injured.

It was the Bandon Rural Fire Department burning an old house as part of a “burn to learn” exercise.

*           *           *

Violence has become such a large part of our lives, and the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is just one more example of political rhetoric gone mad. People will say that this was just an example of a screwball with a gun, but I can’t help feeling it was more than that.

Anyone who paid close attention to the political scene is aware of the real hatred that was displayed – mostly aimed at the candidates. One well-known figure went as far as to put out her “hit” list, complete with a bull’s eye target; unfortunately Congresswoman Giffords was on that list.

Everyone who has watched her as she emerged on the national political scene said she was a conservative Democrat who often reached across the aisle to work on legislation. She did, however, support the health care legislation, and on the day the House approved the bill, her office was vandalized.

We have now learned that the man accused of killing six people and critically wounding the Congresswoman had carefully planned out his assassination. Among evidence found at his home was a letter addressed to him on Giffords’ congressional stationery in which she thanked him for attending a “Congress on your Corner” event at a mall in Tucson in 2007.

This was not a random act of violence, but a carefully planned assassination attempt.

Many are wondering, and rightfully so, if divisive politics had pushed the young man over the edge.

My sister, who lived many years in Tucson, had spent Saturday morning talking to her long-time friend in Tucson. They talked for about an hour, but it wasn’t 10 minutes after they’d hung up that the friend called back – crying. She’d worked on Gabby Giffords campaign and would have been at the Congress on the Corner gathering had she not worked all night the previous night in her volunteer position, helping those who are victims of domestic violence.

This was a terrible tragedy and will ultimately change the way elected representatives meet with their constituents – and that’s a sad day for America.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 05, 2011

It’s been quite a few months since Oregon outlawed the use of cell phones while driving, but it appears that a lot of people haven’t heard about the law … or they simply don’t care. But if they choose to drive around Bandon while gabbing on their cell phone, they may be in for a big surprise. Our officers, and particularly Sgt. Larry Lynch, have been writing tickets for illegal cell phone use, and when I tell people that, they seem genuinely happy about it – unless, of course, they happened to have been on the receiving end of a ticket.

I don’t like to see anyone get a ticket, but when people continue to flaunt the law, it’s a bit frustrating. I recently watched a young man texting while he was driving … or should I say trying to drive. He was paying absolutely no attention to the road, because he was so intent on the message he was sending.

I don’t know how many departments have begun to issue tickets for cell phone use, but it’s a dangerous practice, and the law should be enforced.

I’ll admit it was hard to break myself of the habit, but now I either don’t answer the phone or I immediately pull off to the side of the road.

*           *           *

Tammy Smith at the City of Bandon recently received an interesting e-mail from a couple (Gerry and Teresa Miller) in Renton, Wash., who are searching for a relative. Tammy tried to think of someone who’d lived in Bandon for many years, and I was one of the people she passed the request on to.

They are trying to track down the name of a man who was born or lived in Bandon, but they don’t know his name, only that he was a radioman in World War II. He was in the Navy or possibly the Coast Guard and flew over the Aleutian Islands in Alaska in 1945 dropping bottles with messages for people on the islands. He might have spoken of that if he returned to Bandon after the war. He should be between 82 and 84 years old and may be of Norwegian descent.

That’s all the information contained in the first e-mail. But there’s more.

The woman wrote again: “My husband just found out his father is not his biological father. His mother has died and made his dad swear not to tell Gerry that fact. Now that his Dad is on his deathbed, he told my husband. He doesn’t have a lot of information so we are going with what we know.”

Teresa Miller said that if any of us find out anything we can contact her at 425-226-5664.

I spent several hours Thursday poring through the 1945 bound volume at Western World. It made it pretty easy to find news about the servicemen (and women) because there was a separate column each week for anything about a local person in the service, and believe me, there were a lot of them.

For example, I learned that two of my mother’s first cousins had died in the war, or at least one was listed as missing in action and the other had died the previous year in a Japanese prison camp. I have never heard anyone in my family speak of this, so I am not even sure my mother knows. For certain, my sisters didn’t know.

I found a couple of servicemen who had been radiomen, and several with Norwegian-sounding names, but that’s as close as I got to finding Gerry Miller’s real father.

But I don’t intend to give up.

It may well be that the man, whoever he is, didn’t even know he had a son, which is quite likely since the woman was so secretive about it. Who knows?

*           *           *

The New Year’s Eve party at The Barn was quite a festive bash. It was packed with dressed-up people who seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves dancing to the music of Jim and Holly Sylvester’s popular band, Sly & Co. The Barn was beautifully decorated, the food was great and it proved to be “the place to be” on Friday night.

Barn manager Nancy Evans, who sponsored the benefit for the Main Street Program, said she reached her goal of $1,500 for Main Street, which will be used to pay the first year of insurance and the 501 c3 application for the Greater Bandon Association. Main Street spokeswoman Anne Sabbota thanked Nancy for what she termed “an awesome achievement.”

*           *           *

It’s not bad enough that Lloyd’s has never reopened after being purchased by a California couple, but now another local landmark, Frasers Restaurant and Quarterdeck Lounge, has also closed. The restaurant has been closed for quite a while, but now the whole facility is shuttered.

We’ve heard that someone may have purchased the business, but right now that’s just a rumor that I can’t confirm. All I know for sure is that Frasers, for many years one of the most popular dining spots in town, is gone. And that’s a shame.

Not much has been happening at Lloyd’s, but when the new owners first bought it they spent a lot of time cleaning it, tearing down and moving interior walls and generally trying to put some sparkle back into what had long been the local hot spot.

Hopefully they still plan to open back up, but they may be waiting for the economy to improve a bit so they can invest a bit more money into it.

We don’t need any more empty buildings in Bandon, and that’s especially true when they’ve been around as long as Lloyd’s and Frasers have.

previous columns by mary schamehorn