As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 25, 2012

I’ve been writing this column for so many years that I’ve just about run out of ideas to write about, and this is one of those weeks. I always write my column on Sunday evening, but today, rather than thinking about what I would talk about, I spent the afternoon watching NFL football. So if this is a small, and not very interesting, column, forgive me. I’ll try to do better next week.

When I think about some of the subjects I’ve tackled during my long career as a journalist in Bandon, I’m beginning to think it might make an interesting book. I could go back through the bound volumes at Western World and reprint my columns – some extremely hard-hitting, some just plain humorous.

Now that I’m on Facebook and receive daily emails from people who are on the “If you are a native of Bandon” page, it’s so much fun reliving all the things people are talking about, and weighing in when I can.

I can see that there is still a lot of interest in our town, regardless of how long – or how long ago – you lived here. I think I would have a built-in market for my book … and would never have to worry about selling enough copies to make it pay for itself.

Now all I have to do is get started … and that’s the hard part.

My youngest sister, who lives in Vancouver, wants me to put my column on Facebook or at least a link to, but I don’t know how. If you know how I would do it, let me know by emailing me at

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It seems like a long time ago that I was bragging about the wonderful weather we’d been having. That was then and this is now.

While it’s true that I can’t remember such great weather in December and January, conversely I also can’t recall when the wind blew as hard as it did … for so many days in a row as it did last week. Usually you think of a windstorm as a few intense hours… and then it lets up. But not last week. It just blew and blew and blew.

The same deck on which my family celebrated my mother’s 95th birthday on Jan. 7 is now covered with asphalt shingles from my roof. I picked them all up during the brief respite on Saturday, but we were hit by some pretty strong winds on Sunday morning and I found another shingle. Fortunately the shingles blew off the garage and not the house, and so far so good, I haven’t noticed that it is leaking, at least not through the ceiling. The floor is another matter.

I was trying to describe to a friend what the weather report was predicting for the next week and I said it would be “raining all year.” What I meant was “all week.” But who’s counting.

Weather has now struck with a vengeance, but I’m still savoring my memories of three weeks in December and two weeks in January with warm, wonderful sun.

That’s what happens when your glass is “half full,” or you’re in denial.

*           *           *

I wonder how the Washington State Cougars feel now that they’ve learned that a Utah school district has decided against using “Cougars” as a mascot for a new high school in part because of the negative connotation of the word in popular culture.

I am not sure what “popular culture” really means, but it sounds like just another example of political correctness run amok.

An item in the Oregonian says “the term cougar in popular culture (there’s that phrase again) can refer to women in their 40s who have sex with younger men.”

Wonder what the word “Tiger” means in “popular culture.”

But if we wait long enough, I’m sure we’ll find out.

*           *           *

The Bandon Youth Center’s annual auction is always a fun party, and from what I’ve read, this Saturday night’s event at Harbortown Events Center could be the best one yet.

It’s billed as “Bite of Bandon,” and offers people a chance to eat their way through Bandon by sampling Bandon’s finest restaurants and eateries.

There will also be auctions – both silent and oral – and I’ve been asked to serve as master of ceremonies (although I am not sure what that means). I know for sure I won’t be the auctioneer as that is the job of local radio personality Lee Taft, but I will definitely be there to lend moral support.

Tickets are $15 a person or $100 for a table eight. People can buy tickets at Coastal Mist in Old Town or the Youth Center on 11th Street. Call 541-347-8336 to place a credit card order for tickets.

This is for a good cause and deserves our support.

*           *           *

The trial of a former Bandon man, Loren Max Leach, is set to begin in Curry County on Feb. 13. Loren has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide in the truck crash which killed his sister, Karlan Marie Patterson, 66, of Portland, on Aug. 23 when they were driving south on Highway 101 near Port Orford shortly before noon. They had come to Bandon to attend a celebration of life for their older brother, Elwyn.

Leach, 57, of Kailua Kona, Hawaii, was charged following the accident in which the truck he was driving crashed into a tree and killed his sister.

Loren’s trial was originally set to start Oct. 11 but that trial was vacated after his attorney, Jim Gardner, asked that Leach be evaluated to determine if he could assist in his own defense.

He has been held on $250,000 security since he was booked into the Curry County Jail on Aug. 25 following his release from Southern Coos Hospital.

District Attorney Everett Dial earlier told the court that Leach was driving the truck 80 to 90 mph when he lost control and crashed into a tree.

“He told the police at that time he wanted to commit suicide legally,” Dial said.

It doesn’t bode well for him.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 18, 2012

For those of you who may have seen the police brief in last week’s Western World and not known who Daniel Smith is, I think it’s important that you know what happened. Smith badly injured his 81-year-old mother, Mary Smith, who is best known as the “flower lady” around Bandon. A retired nurse, Mary sponsored the most beautiful flower shows that you can imagine for many years. Several years ago she was honored by the Port of Bandon and others for her contribution to the community.

Mary Smith
Mary Smith

Danny Smith has suffered from mental illness for years, and he lived with his mother. They were apparently in his car last week when he beat her badly about the head and face. One officer told me that Mary suffered a broken bone beneath her eye. It is a tragedy for all concerned, but the community deserves to know when someone they have loved and respected over the years suffers something like this. Danny was arrested on charges of second-degree domestic assault, reckless endangering and first-degree criminal mistreatment and was taken to jail.

I am not sure what the outcome will be, but Mary needs our love and support … and Danny needs help.

*           *           *

In the last four or five years before Schroeder’s closed in Myrtle Point, I purchased several new appliances, including a black refrigerator for my own use and a new dishwasher for my rental.

Unfortunately, as I have now learned, they were both Frigidaire brands, and both of them “broke.” I nearly cried when the repairman told me that my beautiful black refrigerator probably could not be repaired. It had already cost me $149 for a repairman to search for the Freon leak, and the repair store advised me that it could be several hundred more and there was no guarantee they could find it. They said: “Just buy a new one.” It was sad to haul something without even a scratch on it to the dump, but there was nothing else to do.

And it was only a few months later that the dishwasher, which was about two years old, stopped working. Apparently the pump had gone out, and that will cost me $195.

If I had known then what I know now (and armed with the knowledge that the repairman told me about Frigidaire), I certainly would have looked for a more reliable brand.

I subscribe to Consumer Reports, but apparently I forgot to research either of these items before I purchased them.

It was an expensive lesson.

*           *           *

I generally pride myself on keeping a pretty neat house (even though you’d never know it if you looked inside my car or visited my office in Myrtle Point), but all that changed in a heartbeat.

I’d just finished watching an episode of Hoarders on TLC. I’d heard about the show but had never watched it. To call it appalling was an understatement. How could anyone live in all that clutter I asked myself?

But after seeing how hoarders live, I decided to really take stock of my own neat, but crowded, closets.

And that was my first mistake.

I noticed that one of the brackets in my walk-in closet seemed to be bent … and while I was examining it more closely, the entire shelf pulled away from the wall, tossing previously neat boxes of summer wear and purses down onto my head and sending most of the hanging items cascading on top of me and all over the floor. It was a complete mess.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but before the rest of the clothes fell I figured I’d better get them off the now broken and bent rack before the whole closet ended up on the floor.

I carried load after load out into the living room where they will remain until I get someone to fix the closet … which, hopefully by the time you read this, will have happened.

This is the second time the rack has broken loose, and I really, truly believe it’s trying to tell me something.

I have too many clothes …. Brees here I come.

*           *           *

“On Our Way to Carnegie Hall,” a benefit for the young people, who are headed for New York next month, was a tremendous evening of music and entertainment.

Performing were Jeneveve Winchell and sisters Destyni and Tessa Fuller of Bandon and Nick Zamora of Coos Bay. The four, and Thaddeus Miller of Bandon, have been chosen to attend the American High School Honors Choir in New York City Feb. 9-13 with a performance at Carnegie Hall on Feb. 12.

Bandon should be terribly proud of these young people, who recently formed a new group, “Passin’ Notes.” They have already performed at Shore Acres, in Douglas County and in Brookings, and I definitely look forward to seeing them on the local stage again.

*           *           *

People have another opportunity to see some very talented young people Thursday night at the second Sweet Speeches of Bandon High School’s 14th season, to be held at the Sprague Theater beginning at 7.

It’s also a benefit … to help pay for meals and motels for the speech team as they perform in competitions across the state.

Over the years I’ve been to many Sweet Speeches events … and I’ve never been disappointed. Their coach, Ellen Howard, introduced competitive speech to Bandon High School 14 years ago and her teams have garnered honor after honor against much larger schools.

And they really do appreciate the support they’ve received from the community.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 11, 2012

If anyone had told me that we’d be having my mother’s 95th birthday celebration outside on our deck in east Bandon … on Jan. 7, I would have told them they were crazy. Knowing that there might be between 8 and 12 people here, I spent a goodly amount of time (for me) cleaning the living room and moving the Total Gym out of the middle of the room. I set up extra chairs, placemats on my wooden tables and was prepared for an indoor party.

Surprise. Surprise. No one even set foot in the living room. We spent the entire three hours on the deck basking in the sunshine, enjoying sister Maggie’s chocolate roll and some good strong coffee (courtesy of sister Molly).

We had an even bigger surprise for mom. I had invited my ex-husband, Bill Harris, and his wife, Audrey, who live in Corvallis. I knew that Bill had been having some health problems, and he wasn’t sure he could come, but we were thrilled when they arrived shortly after the party started. He was always a real favorite of my mom’s and she was so happy and surprised to see them. We have been divorced for over 40 years, and I think mother has only seen Bill once since then, but she had communicated with them at Christmastime until she stopped sending cards several years ago. This was definitely a highlight of her day, and she was still talking about it Sunday.

As another surprise, my friend Jason flew over the house and dipped his wings in a wave.

All in all, I think this was her best party ever … and the weather played a big part.

*           *           *

I don’t know all the details but I’ve just learned that the three-year-old daughter of Meghan McCurdy Butts and her husband, Rory, has been diagnosed with leukemia, and they are at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland with her. Meghan, who was raised in Bandon, is the daughter of Patty and Kenny McCurdy who own Sweets & Treats in Old Town, and she’s been here helping them run the store.

I understand an account has been set up in their name through Kathy Miller at Sterling Savings Bank, and I know that they would appreciate any help they receive.

*           *           *

Our small congregation at St. John’s Episcopal Church received some great news Sunday: our wonderful organist Barbara Eakley and one of our newer members, Bob Braddy (father of Colleen Showalter), will be married Sunday, Jan. 22, during the Sunday morning service.

I’m not sure how they managed to keep it from us as we’re a pretty tight-knit group but everyone is absolutely thrilled for them.

This will be the last official act at St. John’s for our interim priest, Susan Hazen, who has been here two and a half years.

*           *           *

I can’t remember a time when I haven’t said that I would NEVER be on Facebook. Now that I’m on Facebook, I can’t even recall what my reasons were for not signing up earlier.

A friend of mine said he’d posted some of his photos on his Facebook page and encouraged me to sign up. Actually my sister, Mindy Johnson, had used my computer one day and every time I wanted to look at someone’s Facebook page, her name popped up, and she was gracious enough to give me her password.

But my friend convinced me it was time to get my own account, which I did, but apparently when I friended him (or whatever it’s called), it came up Mindy Johnson (without my realizing it) and so now he and Mindy are “friends.” (She’s probably wondering who he is since he is relatively new to Bandon and she won’t be familiar with his name.)

I guess he finally realized I was actually on Facebook, also. I was a bit timid and posted almost no information, nor even a picture of myself, but at least it was a start. I have especially enjoyed a group that Sharon Ward Moy invited me to join that is for people who were born here. It’s been interesting to reminisce about people and places (like the old Ferry that we used to ride across the Coquille River before the Bullards Bridge was built). I’ve even discovered that most of my nieces and nephews and even their children are on Facebook.

I’m really glad he talked me into “taking the leap.” I just don’t know what took me so long.

*           *           *

Ever since Tillamook Cheese bought our local cheese factory, stopped making cheese, then closed the retail store and tore down the building, I haven’t exactly been a fan of the company. I know chamber members who still won’t buy Tillamook cheese.

It seems that we’re not the only community that isn’t happy with Tillamook. The City of Tillamook, a relatively small town on the north Oregon coast, learned last week that the cheese factory is eliminating 50 jobs. Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi is quoted as saying the decision will have a profound impact. “There are very few family wage jobs in Tillamook. It’s going to have a ripple effect,” he said.

The layoffs are expected to take place in the first or second week of February and are the result of the creamery association moving packaging jobs to cut high transportation costs.

Tillamook cheese, which is actually made in Boardman, Ore., will now be shipped to Mountain Home, Ida., and Salt Lake City where it will be cut, wrapped and distributed. The distribution network was previously in Tillamook.

Josi was also upset at the way he learned the news – on television – and questioned the company’s empathy for the community.

Now people in Tillamook will better understand how we felt when they pulled out of Bandon.

As I See It

by Mary Schamehorn

Mary Schamehorn

January 04, 2012

I was told earlier this week that popular nurse practitioner Mary Anker was leaving town. It was hard for me to believe. She has been such a great addition to our town since she arrived several years ago to work with Dr. Gail McClave, who founded the Bandon Community Health Clinic.

But that was only a part of the story. Actually, Mary is only going across town. She has told her patients that she will be joining the North Bend Medical Group in their Bandon Clinic. I had heard several months ago that Susie Yost was no longer with the clinic, although I’ve never seen anything in writing, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. I know Mary will enjoy working with Dr. Jeff Scott and I am sure her patients are glad to hear that she won’t be going far.

It would be a shame to lose her.

*           *           *

The City received a document last week from the “United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware,” advising creditors that Lee Enterprises, Inc., had filed voluntary chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions.

I immediately Googled Lee Enterprises and learned that the corporation, that owns papers across the country including The World and Bandon Western World, had filed bankruptcy on Dec. 12 in an effort to refinance about $1 billion in debt.

The company said that the bankruptcy will have no impact on its business and that its papers will continue to publish. Employees, suppliers and customers will not be affected, the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Lee has secured a $40 million line of credit to finance operations during the restructuring, it said in the SEC filing.

Lee’s largest unsecured creditors listed in the filing are $1.7 million owed to Alberta Newsprint Sales and $1.3 million owed to North Pacific Paper Co. That’s a lot of newsprint.

As newspapers across the country struggle to remain solvent, it would certainly not be good news if anything happened to our weekly paper. But from the information put out by the company, it appears that the 300 weekly newspapers, and a number of dailies, Lee owns across the country will remain in business.

*           *           *

After a couple of weeks of mostly freezing, or certainly cold, weather, the rain returned … along with the warmer weather. Right?


I look at the weather report pretty much daily at, but saw nothing about freezing temperatures Friday night. OK, maybe I forgot to look that day, but I usually do.

I’d turned on my hot tub about 6:30 and went out every hour to see if the temperature had reached 103 degrees. I knew the deck was wet and it was a bit cold outside, but I never realized how cold it had gotten until I began skidding across the deck on a solid sheet of ice just after 9 p.m. Unable to get my balance, I crashed hard to the deck and landed on my left side … elbow, hip and leg. I narrowly missed hitting my head on a stationery bench, and I shudder to think what the result of that might have been

No one was around and I probably wouldn’t have been missed until …. God knows when since it was a holiday and no one was expecting me anywhere until at least Tuesday when I definitely would have been missed at work.

I think I am beginning to understand why people who live alone sign up for Lifeline. I don’t really think I’ve reached that age yet, but had I broken my hip, instead of just badly bruising it, I might have wished I’d had it.

A couple of hours later, none the worse for the experience, I did make it into the hot tub.

A friend told me at church Sunday that her mother, who is only six years older than I, had fallen Friday night while out walking her dog. She suffered a broken hip, underwent surgery and will be in a nursing home for a month while she recovers.

Actually, I guess I was pretty lucky even though my hip is still extremely sore.

I might even be a little more careful next time … or pay closer attention to the weather.

*           *           *

Several of my friends, including one of my sisters, walk their dogs on the beach and eight or 10 days ago, just as I left the Herald, we received a warning from the U.S. Weather Service about an extremely high surf that was going to hit the coast. I warned my friends because more often than not when someone gets into trouble on the beach it’s because their dog has ventured into the ocean and they go into rescue them. Most dog owners that I know would risk their own lives to save their beloved pets – and that’s why I worry about them walking on the beach at this time of year.

Apparently that is what happened over the weekend to a Veneta man, who is believed to have drowned when he tried to rescue his dog from the ocean at Gold Beach. People saw him go into the water, but before help could arrive, he was gone. His dog was found dead on the beach, but I don’t think they’ve found the man’s body yet.

These are tragedies that could be avoided with a healthy (very healthy) respect for the ocean, particularly during the winter months.

*           *           *

I know that businesses are continuing to struggle and I was sorry to hear that Lloyds would be closing – probably until sometime around Valentine’s Day. In the recent past (that means I don’t know the exact dates) we’ve lost Wild Rose, Two Loons and Thai Thai out of Old Town, along with Edgewaters, which closed for the winter. The Old Town Pizza has been taken over by its owner, Paul Jackson, who owns Figaro’s in Coquille. Two Loons, under new owners, has moved up to the building near the post office and Bob is advertising his great quiche for takeout. The Asian Garden has opened to rave reviews in the former Fraser’s Restaurant building. I’ve talked with people who really love it; for me, it didn’t have the flavor of Charlie’s mild-plus or medium Thai food, but a lot of people don’t care for the burning sensation that I had grown to love.

I am just praying that the economy will turn around soon, but in the meantime we need to support the businesses that are left to make sure that no others exit our community.

previous columns by mary schamehorn