Cleft of the Rock lighthouse, just south of Yachats, was the home of lighthouse keeper and maritime author Jim Gibbs, who died at home on May 1, 2010, at the age of 88. It is a private residence, not open to the public, as well as a navigational landmark officially recognized by the US Coast Guard. The Yachats Gazette staff was privileged to have the opportunity to tour the site and to spend an afternoon talking with Deb and Ray Pedrick, Mr. Gibbs’ daughter and son-in-law, who continue to live on the property.
Ray: As you know, Jim was a writer. He has about 22 books to his credit. […] But Jim was also a collector. As a kid, he grew up above the Seattle waterfront, on Queen Anne Hill. They had a big house, but Jim always took the smallest room up in the attic because it had a little window that looked down on the ships. As a little kid, he started recording what ships came in, what ships left, who was the captain—stuff like that.
TYG: How did he know that?
Ray: Because back in those days, you could walk on down and talk to them. He got to know them, and then he read stuff on them. From the time he was a young kid to the time he died, even though his mind was getting … foggy, the one thing he always knew, whenever somebody was sitting here interviewing or questioning him: […] ship tonnage, where it was going, who was its captain, what its cargo was: he knew everything.
As a young person he started collecting stuff. In 1948, he and a group of five other guys started what was called the Puget Sound Maritime Historical Society. They saw that lighthouses and things like that were being destroyed—they were taking sledgehammers to lighthouse lenses, beautiful Fresnel lenses. They just considered them junk and wanted to replace them with aerial beacons. So they [the Society] started saving everything they could get: the rafts of ships after World War II which would just sit out in Elliott Bay, that they were going to scrap in Yokohama [after World War II, Yokohama, Japan, was a major transshipment base for American supplies and personnel]. They were basically going up [to] the night watchmen, [who were] very lonely, and so they would sit down, start telling war stories, liquoring each other up pretty good while everybody else was unbolting everything else on the ships, lowering it over the side—they were trying to save all the artifacts they could. So a lot of things you see around here, Jim has given—and Cherie; when I say Jim I also mean Cherie—they gave a lot of stuff. You’ll see their stuff at the [Columbia River] Maritime Museum in Astoria, the museum up in Seattle… you’ll see a lot of stuff. This [most of the maritime-themed furnishings in the house] is just a small fraction of what he has.
Deb: There are also a number of things in our house that I grew up with.
Ray: And for safekeeping—we do have two Fresnel lenses down there. They’re fourth-order, which means they’re 2.5 feet tall. One’s from the northernmost San Juan Island, and the other one is from the northernmost lighthouse on the Washington-Canadian border—Semiahmoo and Patos Island. So we have those two.
[We start touring the house, which is filled with maritime-related equipment, memorabilia, and photographs.]
Ray: Now Allen, back in the days before they had electricity, lighthouse lenses sometimes revolved. So how do you think they did it?
TYG: I’m not exactly sure, but I know the lights were focused candles, many many candles.
Ray: Actually, it was just one. That was the trick—and we’ll talk about that in a second. But—you know what a grandfather clock is? You know how you have weights in the grandfather clock?
TYG: Ah! That’s how they turned! And they were really big weights—I’ve seen that at Heceta Head.
Ray: Now I understand that you might be taking a trip down to Frisco soon?
Ray: South of San Francisco, on Point Sur… This is from the original Point Sur Lighthouse. This was the crank they used to raise those weights. And sometimes, in some lighthouses, that might have to be done four times a night. A lighthouse keeper was on deck. His job lasted from when the sun went down till the sun came up, also hauling oil. You said there were many, many candles. The trick was, to take one little flame—usually it was whale oil back in those days—and that whale oil flame had to shine anywhere from eight to 18 miles out to sea, sometimes farther. So how did they do that? And that’s where the beauty of the Fresnel lens came in.
TYG: The many different mirrors focused [the light] on one point, and that one point is very, very strong.
Ray: Right! It comes out the bull’s-eye, and that’s what the prisms did, in a large lens of the first order, like at Heceta Head, that can fit 12 grown men inside, down to the 4th order lenses that are 2.5 feet tall. […]
TYG: I know there’s a story about this lighthouse in Alaska… [looking at a picture of the Scotch Cap Lighthouse on a craggy cliff]
Ray: It’s on the Aleutian Islands. You can see the little beach down there below. […] The 1946 tsunami took this [lighthouse] out. It’s reinforced concrete—[the tsunami] totally wiped it out, killed all the keepers, went over the top of the hill, and took out the LORAN [Long Range Navigation] station on the other side. […]
Ray: [Moving on to a different photo] This is Tillamook Rock—it’s a mile out […] between Cannon Beach and Seaside, right off Tillamook Head. Jim would always try to tell people what it was like to be stationed there. Actually seventy pound rocks would come down through the roof, flood the lamp out… You can see it out there today. It’s a bird rookery and it’s falling apart. […] For years Jim would give what he called “Sea Talks” at [the Hatfield] Marine Science Center. Boy, he would just pack that place—people would come from all over just to hear him. And he was always trying to describe what it was like and never really could. […]
[Another photo of Tillamook Rock Lighthouse engulfed in waves and spray] Ok Allen, here’s the most notorious lighthouse on the west coast, and you can see why. They would rotate one keeper out for one month—you would go ashore for 30 days and they’d keep three other keepers on there. Now, how does he get from the rock to the boat?
Ray: Well, they didn’t have helicopters back in those days. So you see this [piece of equipment on shore]? It’s called a derrick boom. And then you put on what’s called a breeches buoy that looks like a lifebuoy ring with feet in it, and then you’d get yourself attached to [the boom] with a hook. The derrick operator lifts you up, moves you over, and as the deck of the ship is coming up, he’s got to try to gently lower you down and let you go. When Jim first went to the lighthouse—the same thing happened to him that happened to everybody else—he was the only young Coast Guardsman there. The others were part of the original lighthouse service. So when they had a new initiate, they would—unfortunately and mistakenly—not lift the boom up in time, so when the next surf came in they would drag you through 12 feet of green water and then pull you up soaking wet, so you were baptized. They did that dirty trick to everybody that came along. […] Jim thought he was going to go crazy when he first got out there […]. He actually tried to escape from there, and made a raft out of the original outhouse. He lowered it into the water, and the waves took it away immediately… […] But then he learned to make peace with it; he learned to love it; he learned to really appreciate the keepers.
Ray: Every year, up in Seattle, they have what’s called the Seafair. To start the festivities in the old days—the EPA wouldn’t like it today—they would always burn a ship on Lake Washington around where the hydroplane races are held. They burned the old Bellingham, which is this ship in better times—and this is it [another photo] when they were getting ready to burn it down. […] Jim almost lost his life in that. Jim was a very lucky man because sometimes I wonder how he survived some of the things…
TYG: What happened? […]
Ray: Jim went down to one end of the hold—they got down in the hold, in the bilge area—and he lit off one end, and some other guy lit off the other end, and when the guy ran up the ladder, he kicked the ladder loose and then slammed the hatch shut. Poor Jim’s in the darkness there until the flames got enough to light the way. He found the ladder, but he lost his eyebrows! […]
[Moving on] This was primarily Jim’s bed. This is an original officer’s bunk out of the battleship Oregon. […]
TYG: Wow! Is this an original telephone?
Ray: That’s off the battle cruiser Helena, during World War II—here’s a picture of the cruiser—and this was just the battle station…
TYG: Battle station telephone! I’ve used one of these phone styles!
Ray: You worry me then.
TYG: I’m not kidding! Blythe used to have one of these! Yep, Blythe had an old rotary telephone!
[General adult hilarity. We move upstairs.]
Ray: [showing a photograph of the Fiddle Reef Light] Ok, do you notice the resemblance between that lighthouse, and the one here [that we’re in]? Four slab sides, a slight angle? What happened is, the Canadian Lighthouse Service made plans. They could either add more material, make them taller and wider; or smaller and more squat—they were basic plans. So when they thought they needed a lighthouse someplace, and it was in a remote area, you went to your local mill and had them mill the wood for it, and they erected it. The Canadian Lighthouse Service at that time pretty much put a local person in charge—they did not have a professional service crew quite so much as we did. And so you’ll find this same design […] from the Gaspé Bay Peninsula on the east coast down the St. Lawrence River to the west coast: you’ll see the same, basic design. Now this lighthouse [Cleft of the Rock] was made out of original plans for what was called the Fiddle Reef Light, which was in Oak Bay, British Columbia. […] Jim has the plans—they’re down there under the bed—but this is an exact replica.
TYG (Graphic Design): So he built it himself?
Ray: Actually Eddie Hoen and Steve Hamilton, which were two builders back then, they built this house and they built our house. No, Jim was not a carpenter. […]
[We move back downstairs in preparation for climbing the lighthouse tower, which is accessed from the ground floor.]
Please look for the second part of our interview with Deb and Ray Pedrick in next month’s issue.
Interview with Valerie Odenthal at Antique Virgin
Valerie: So we’ve already had one jewelry-making class here, and it was a success. The students [each] made a bracelet set with lampwork beads and other beads and gems. We want to do a class once a month, so I have put an ad in the Pacific Skinny looking for teachers that can come over here and possibly teach different classes. The next class we’d really like to teach is a wire wrapping class. And then we’d like to teach a beading class.…
TYG: Yeah, maybe that can be my Mom’s class. She came up with a new design for a bracelet….
Valerie: Well, I hope she considers doing it. … I want to get local teachers here. First of all, they’d be paid, and it would be a great community effort, and it might bring new people into beading and jewelry-making. It can be very therapeutic, and it’s a win-win, because they end up with a great creation afterwards.
TYG: Weird—I always thought the expression was “a win-win-win.”
Valerie: [laugh] Okay, third win—you get to meet new people in classes. […] Or you can take a class with friends. You can learn some new jewelry techniques… we’re going to have a class that will teach the basics, like how to use a crimp bead…
TYG: What is a crimp bead?
Valerie: The crimp bead is what holds [the end of the threading material] to the clasp.
TYG: How did the first class go?
Valerie: It went really well. Our teacher was actually a lampwork artist, and she makes a lot of her own jewelry—the students really loved her and loved the class. Also, the classes are going to be affordably priced—depending on the class, between $25 and $40 per student.
TYG: Does that include materials?
Valerie: It does not include materials, but the materials are usually a lot cheaper than that—usually no more than $15 to $20, depending. Usually the people who will take these classes are beaders themselves, so they usually have quite a supply of [materials].
TYG: Let’s talk about the store. Where did you get the idea for this store?
Valerie: Well actually, it wasn’t my idea. It was Kay York who started the store, seven years ago. But I like to think that we’ve taken it to another level, because we now have a website, and you can order a lot of the product on the website. We’ve brought in new product … like the sustainable purses. The Haiku line is made from recycled plastic bottles. If you look at the tag, it’ll tell you how many bottles were saved from landfill.
TYG: They’re beautiful!
Valerie: And they’re very popular, because they have a lot of room, and they’re great for travel.
TYG: I’m probably going to outgrow my old backpack soon, and I’ll probably want something like this for my next one.
Valerie: Also, we work only with fair-trade companies.
TYG: Which means—?
Valerie: Which means that the companies make sure that the people are paid a fair wage for the product they’re making.
A Conversation with Dean Shrock, Ph.D.
TYG: What is it exactly that you do?
Dean: Well, I trained as a psychologist. I went to school for a long time, and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree in Community and College Counseling, and then a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology. So that’s my formal training. And then my internships…. I wrote a research proposal for the Cleveland Clinic, to test guided imagery. It’s like self-hypnosis—do you know what that is?
TYG: We read a couple of your articles on line. [www.deanshrock.com]
Dean: It’s the idea that you can use your mind, and your imagination and your beliefs, to actually affect the structure and function of the body.
TYG: I see.
Dean: I initially was going to work with the Cleveland Clinic, testing this with breast cancer patients, and I did that for a year, and then I [did] another internship [working] with a rehabilitation hospital. And there I was a staff psychologist, working with people primarily recovering from strokes, and I helped them with the psychological part of what is it like to have to adjust to a major change in your health status, not only for the person who has the stroke, but for the family. And we also found that I could teach the people who had the stroke how to use their imagination. ... For example, when you’re in the hospital for a stroke, you’re going to have to go through physical therapy, where essentially you learn to retrain the muscles to function properly again—well, when you imagine that you’re able to do it, along with the actual physical practice and training, it actually goes better, faster.
TYG: Cool! And that’s actually been shown in studies?
Dean: Very much so. And I showed them there in the hospital that they could do that. They hadn’t done that before. And while I was there, I had the opportunity to do additional training. It was so unusual for me, because I went to school for a long time, and I joked that I was penniless—I put myself through school. So it was funny that here I get this job and an internship, and they actually gave me money for what they called continuing education. I thought that was pretty hysterical. [laughter] So I took their money, and I trained with an oncologist, a radiation oncologist, who pioneered what we call psychosocial oncology—how psychological factors affect the course of disease, specifically with cancer.
TYG: I see.
Dean: We immediately had this great rapport, and decided we would continue to work together, and continue his research, which he had published in a major medical journal, [showing] that it could actually affect survival with cancer. I went back to where I was based, in State College, Pennsylvania, where Penn State University is, and the hospital where I was working was very interested in my developing a protocol for cancer patients there. … They sat on the project and didn’t follow through with it, but in the meantime I had contacted oncologists in the area about developing a program … with their patients, and they were very interested. Well, when my hospital sat on the project, I went back to them, and asked if they were still interested, and actually they were looking for someone like me to develop psychological services for their cancer centers.
Dean: Yeah, it was! So… I left the rehab hospital, and went to work directly with… a physician management group, and I didn’t realize that they were actually connected with what grew to be 40 cancer centers. So then I had a pretty big job, traveling and dealing with literally thousands of cancer patients and their families over the years.
TYG: So you’re glad you took that job!
Dean: Very much so. It was a blessing that I had met Dr. [Carl] Simonton, and fortunately I was single and very, very interested in the work, so I was free to spend as much time as I had to, traveling around and developing the services.
TYG: I see.
Dean: So then, in that process, I met somebody at Penn State University who was very interested in what I was doing—his name is Dr. Raymond Palmer, and he was in their biobehavioral health department. And he was a statistician. It’s kind of a joke within the field that you have to be pretty unique to really like statistics. And he loved statistics, and he said there was a way we could test the effectiveness of what I was doing. So there was another blessing. We worked together, and in fact we showed that the program I was teaching actually improved survival with cancer patients, beyond those who just got conventional medical treatment.
TYG: By how much?
Dean: By a lot. … I actually worked with all stages of cancer, even the most advanced, but when it comes to doing research, you have to have enough numbers to analyze properly, so in order to analyze this and have it be a good study, [we had] only enough stage 1 breast and prostate cancer to analyze, to include in the study. But we found, for example, that when we looked at people who had gone through my program, which was very similar to Dr. Simonton’s, for four to seven years—because generally speaking, we say that if you’re out five years post your diagnosis with cancer, you’re in pretty good shape, but the oncologists who I was working with said that if they’re out four years, you can actually begin to include them in your study…. So anyhow, from four to seven years, the women with breast cancer—none of them died, in that time period…
Dean: … But the control group, who were very close-matched controls—other women who had stage 1 breast cancer of the exact same type and stage of disease, and a lot of other demographics that were extremely similar—12% of the control group died in the same time period. And then with stage 1 prostate [cancer], 14% of the men I worked with in that four to seven year time period had died, but 28% of the control group died. So twice as many died, who didn’t have the advantage of this.
TYG: That’s pretty big numbers.
Dean: They are. It was a very significant difference. So I was encouraged to write up the research, and [the person who was] probably the leader of what we call mind-body medicine, the editor of the leading journal in the field at the time, he actually asked if he could publish my study, which was very flattering. … So then I was encouraged to write a book as well, because I can only teach so many people at a time, and how do you get this information out. And so I titled it Doctor’s Orders: Go Fishing.
TYG: Yeah, I read about that on line.
Dean: … I found that if I talked to people who didn’t have any particular knowledge or background like I did in how the mind could be so powerful, and if I just cited a lot of research, it was pretty boring. But if I could tell them stories, and use terms like “go fishing,” they seemed to get it. I learned that pretty quickly. So where I lived, just outside State College, I honestly lived in a little town that was actually called Fisherman’s Paradise.
TYG: [laughs] That was really what it was called?!
Dean: Honest to goodness. And my backyard, my deck, overlooked the longest, most popular trout stream in all of Pennsylvania. And there were fly fishermen out there every day fishing. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever really thought about a very serene image—I mean, here at the ocean you can probably think of a lot of things, but back there, the idea of a fisherman out there in the stream, fishing, is totally absorbed in what he or she is doing. And that’s what I wanted people to do, is to be so involved in doing what brought them great joy and meaning—we can call it more formally a will to live, and a passion…
TYG: I read about that.
Dean: Yeah. So I thought about going fishing. And they really got it. In fact, years after, I would run into people, … and they would come up to me and say, “I’ve been going fishing.” So it may sound odd, for a doctor to talk about … prescribing going fishing, but it was … my message that I knew they understood, that made the point very well. So that’s why I decided to keep that the title of my book, even though it might sound strange initially. It’s about encouraging people to do what really brings them the greatest joy and meaning in their life. And how that literally translates into the body functioning in a more healthy way.
… There’s a field of study called psychoneuroimmunology. The importance of that great big word is that back in the seventies, they discovered that the immune system doesn’t function independently. … Back when a lot of doctors I was working with were going through medical school, they always believed that the immune system functioned independently, and could not be affected by any other system, and certainly not [by] the central nervous system, which means your brain. So if your brain is not connected to the immune system, the system that fights disease, then how could your thoughts or beliefs or attitudes or emotions affect the course of disease? It couldn’t happen, right?
Dean: But back in the late seventies they discovered that in fact the immune system could be conditioned, which means through a form of learning. Well, in order for learning to take place, you have to have a brain. So in order for the brain to affect the immune system, or learning, then clearly the immune system could be self-regulated. … The key is here that your lifestyle, and how you feel, actually can improve or actually cause your immune system to work less well.
TYG: I see.
Dean: So that was the big thrust of my work—getting people to do more of what they love to do. But what was really interesting, is that I found that people thought that was too selfish. That was a real eye-opener. I thought, I’m giving people a license to steal, to do more of what they really want to do, as one of their doctors—you know, here we are telling people who have cancer “this is part of what we want you to do for your treatment, to get better”—but they honestly thought it was too selfish, that everybody and everything else should come first.
… And so when they ended up living longer, and the editors of the journal where I post my research wanted a comment, so why, I couldn’t comfortably say that it was because it was the will to live—because, remember, they thought it was too selfish, and they didn’t do it. And that’s when I learned that it’s because people said they felt listened to, and cared for, and supported. And that’s when I went on to write my book Why Love Heals. It may sound kind of logical to you that if you feel safe and loved, or listened to and cared for, that would be healthy—?
Dean: But trust me, when you do the research with this, it hasn’t been done—we don’t even look at factors like that, we just think it can’t be true, or how do you even measure love, and how does that affect the body. So that’s when I went on to really look and find the evidence that might help me understand, and then help others understand, how feeling loved and cared for would actually affect your being healthier.
… My real interest is in teaching. I taught that program for a long time, and I loved it. But when I took time out to write my books, it took a lot of time, and honestly, it took even more time to market them. So I got away from what I really loved to do. And then I got to thinking for myself about doing what you love, and I just realized how much I love to teach, but also how much I missed doing therapy—working with people who have problems. And it doesn’t mean, like, you know, they’re crazy, or—but are there ways that I could teach them to be happier and healthier.
Dean: Okay. Well, I’m pretty good at it. And I miss it. So now that I’m living here, I want to be able to do that again. And so that’s why I wanted to advertise in your Gazette, and I was very pleased that you were interested in talking with me, because I would like to be able to get back to what is really my passion, and help people—through teaching classes….
TYG: How did you get to Yachats?
Dean: When I wrote my second book [Why Love Heals], it took a lot, not to write it so much as market it… and it became a bestseller on Amazon, in three different categories, which is a big deal, we worked hard to pull that off… we decided we should celebrate in some way. And we thought, let’s even maybe go to Hawaii, do something big. But we always found a reason why we couldn’t get away. So finally one weekend we were free; I said to Shelly, “Let’s just go to the coast.” At that time we were living in the Medford, Oregon, area. And she said okay. So I got on line, and I looked up the Oregon coast, and where we might go. And we found “YATCH-ets.”
TYG: [laughing] It’s pronounced “YAH-hots!”
Dean: Well, I didn’t know! I got on the phone and I pronounced it “YATCH-ets,” and I was quickly corrected. So anyhow, that’s how we first came to Yachats.
… We stayed up at the Fireside… and we had time to kill … so for fun we went in the real estate office here, and we explained very clearly: “We are not interested in buying anything. We’re just curious.” … He knew what he was doing… he showed up this piece of land, and we bought it! So that weekend, the first time we’d ever been here, we walked away, went home, and decided to buy that land. So four years ago that happened … and it seemed like we were coming back every month thereafter.... So we decided to take the money from selling our house in Medford, and we decided to build our house here. So last year we built our house, and we moved in in December.