Issue 35 .pdf here
The Yachats Gazette interviewed Janet Hickam, volunteer Library Manager, and Janet Rackleff, the other co-Manager and responsible for the Kids’ Room at the library and the Kids’ Summer Program.
TYG: So, how did the [Yachats] Library get founded?
Janet H.: You’re going to go back a long ways! This is the little bit I know. It started originally over at the Commons—actually, I think it started in someone’s back yard. She did a “take one, give one” book [exchange]. Then I think it went over to the Commons for a while.
Janet R.: I know it was over in the Commons in the seventies. So it started as just one room in the Commons—the Commons used to be an old school. Then they converted it, and there was one room that was the library.
Janet H.: Then this building was built by volunteers—it was in the seventies.
Janet R.: I think there was some fund-raising that was done, but it was all volunteer monies and volunteer labor.
Janet H.: That was my understanding as well. I know the Friends (of the Library) are trying to do a history of it—[Sandy Dunn] is gathering information to put out a little pamphlet or something. Hopefully that will be out soon—she’s been doing some research. […]
TYG: What is the Kids’ Summer Program?
Janet R.: The Summer Program is a grant that we receive from the State, to offer kids a fun way to read during the summer—this year it’s called “Fizz, Boom, Read!” There’s a lot of science focus and science experiments. We started last week, and we had a wonderful volcano. Nan Scott came: she’s a retired soil scientist. She blew up quite a nice geyser for us, and also, each of the kids got a small fill canister that had an Alka Seltzer and some water in it that thrust upward so we could talk about rockets and pressure and things like that. So the program is free and open to children ages four to 12. Waldport [Library] has a teen program. Each week for eight weeks we have some sort of focus for the program, and we meet Tuesday mornings from 10 to noon. As I said, it started last week, and it will go all the way through August 12. On the very last one, we’ll have a story-teller coming from Lebanon, Oregon. He’s going to tell stories, and that will be open to the public for any ages.
TYG: Are these books from donation, or did you buy most of them, or… ?
Janet H.: I would say we buy most of them. But we do take donations, and a lot of people give us donations. We have a great community as far as that goes. We don’t buy any of our DVD’s or VHS. All of those are donated, because we don’t have enough budget to handle that kind of thing too.
TYG: Even the new Star Trek discs?
Janet H.: Even those! We have very generous people in the community.
TYG: That’s impressive, because those are quite valuable!
Janet H.: Yep—we’re very lucky!
Janet R.: There’s a lot of Blu Ray now, and when they buy those, a DVD [also comes with it], so they’ve been giving us those.
TYG-Graphic Design: So, speaking of budget, where does your budget come from?
Janet H.: The City [of Yachats]. The city gives us a very generous budget for our books, the children’s books, as well as our magazines, and of course everything to keep the building running: electricity, water, telephones, all that.
TYG-GD: When did you start receiving a budget from the City?
Janet H.: You know, I’m not sure. Quite a while, I think.
Janet R.: In addition to that, we apply for grants. Like I said, there’s the children’s grant for the Summer Program, but there are grants that we get for refurbishing, and upgrading our computers, and things like that. And the Friends [of the Commons] run the book sale that we have every March: we make some money at that, and the funds are used for library needs again.
TYG-GD: Those Friends, they’re good friends!
Janet H.: Veeeeery good friends. [laughter]
TYG: How did you get the computers? That must have been so expensive, all those Windows 7 computers! You’ve got four of them! And by the way, I’ve always wondered—where are the CPU’s [central processing units, or hard drives]?
Janet H.: [laughter] They’re built in!
Janet R.: Just like the old Apples, they’re built inside and aren’t free-standing.
Janet H.: We originally had our first two computers through a Gates grant—the Gates Foundation was doing a thing. Sue May, who used to be a volunteer here and is very savvy with computers, she got us going. She said that our library had to be up with everybody else. So she worked on a grant, and we got our first two computers, and from there, [we] just kind of added on. The Friends have helped us in getting new computers. For a long time we had volunteer people that hooked all of our computers up and took care of all of our computers. We didn’t have somebody who was professional—we didn’t have to pay anyone. It was all volunteer.
TYG-GD: But now it’s not?
Janet H.: Now we have someone come in, once a month—if we have problems.
TYG-GD: I presume the computers are networked?
Janet H.: Oh yes!
TYG-GD: I can see how, for the community, having access to the computers for job searches and such must be so helpful!
Janet H.: There are a lot of people who come to use them—especially summer people. They come in to check their e-mail, or print out boarding passes, stuff they can’t do. […] And of course the wi-fi, which we have 24/7—there are a lot of people who use that. There’s someone outside right now using it!
Janet R.: What year did the library go to a computerized catalog system?
Janet H.: Ohhh, that was over the course of a few years—it’s been here since I’ve been here. So I’ll say about eight, nine years ago. Again, Sue May helped us find a program for our small needs, so we started entering every single book. Then, we went to the barcode system and had to barcode every book! So it was a two-step process. But we got it done! And then, the next step was getting bar codes on the back of patrons’ cards, so we could check [the books] out electronically, too. We couldn’t do that for a long time. So it was kind of a gradual process.
TYG: How many books do you think you have?
Janet H.: 13,513. [laughter all around] Give or take. We do a monthly report that runs that off.
[Talk of books on Kindle and other electronic readers comes up.]
Janet R.: We do circulate quite a few books on tape—a lot of people travel around here, even just going up to Portland. And another interesting thing is that this library has always had a pretty robust, non-fiction collection.
TYG: And you have a big World War I and II collection back there.
Janet R.: Yep! […] Can I tell you about one of the kids’ programs that we have? During the school year, we work with YYFAP [Yachats Youth and Family Activities Program], and they come in on a weekly basis. And this last year, which was the first year we started, we had a total of 19 children who were signed up at various times for the program. And on an average, the kids read an extra 15 books during the school year!
TYG-GD: What other programs does the library offer?
Janet H.: We do genealogy every Wednesday morning at 10. We have a gentleman who comes in, and anybody who wants to can get help searching for their family history—we have the programs on the computer and he helps walk them through the steps.
Janet R.: For the adults, we’re trying to increase the use of the library for them to find out extra information they might need for Medicare. I think [the person who will run the program] is with SHIBA [Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance].
Janet H.: She’s going through some training, and then will set up a date to help with sign-ups for Medicare.
Janet R.: And then we have public boards, where people can post information about what’s going on around town, upcoming events, and information that would be useful to patrons, things like that.
TYG: Do you have “Ghoul From the Tidal Pool” [a local video produced in 2010, directed by Burgundy Featherkile]?
Janet H.: [laughter] Yes we do!
TYG: That’s a funny movie, isn’t it!
Janet H.: It is! We have local DVDs made my Milo [Graamans] and some of the others around here—we have a whole little stack of them right up front.
TYG: Oh, you have “Great Courses”!
Janet H.: A few…
TYG-GD: Allen’s been watching them for a couple of years now. […] This is where he developed his great love of history! […] How often do you purchase new books?
Janet H.: I try to order new books twice a month. Some of the best-sellers, and we honor requests. […]
Janet R.: And we order kids’ books once a month. […] The other area that we have is another grant for gardening, and seeds.
Janet H.: We have a Yachats Seed Bank. Those were given to us by the Master Gardeners [who run the Community Garden on 7th Street]. They gave us a lot of books a few years ago.
TYG-GD: So how does a seed bank work? Because presumably, they expire after a while.
Janet H.: It’s a seed exchange… People will bring in seeds that they get from this year, or they have extra seeds. And then they buy some once a year as well. We put them up in our little stack there [gestures towards a dedicated bookshelf unit]. It’s a good deal.
TYG-GD: Oh! I wonder if the Farm Store knows about that. They have seeds as well, but maybe they might have some extra…
Janet R.: And we always have books for sale. Even though we just do the big book sale once a year, you can always come in, and if you’re travelling somewhere and know you’re not going to get back to us, you can always pick up a paperback or hard cover for just a dollar or fifty cents.
TYG: Well thank you so much for your time!
Janet H. and R.: You’re welcome!
Interview with Kirk Walker
The Yachats Gazette was privileged to interview Mr. Kirk Walker, another of Yachats’s many interesting citizens.
TYG: Can we get your name, for the recording?
Kirk: Goodyear Kirkman Walker, which I got from a very strong grandmother—her maiden name, and her mother’s maiden name, for which my younger brothers were eternally grateful that I got them all. […] When I was in Air Force ROTC and on the drill team, they called me “Goody Two Shoes.”
TYG: Where, and when were you born?
Kirk: I was born in the Oakland Army hospital, in Oakland, California. My Dad was in the Air Force, and was stationed in what’s now Travis Air Force Base, but they didn’t have a hospital, so Mom had to go into Oakland.
TYG: Do you have siblings (I’m pretty sure you do, from your earlier remarks)?
Kirk: [laughter] A total of three brothers born. There’s one left. I lost one brother in ‘Nam, and on brother died when he was two years old. Probably these days it would be called Sudden Infant Death. They took him into the hospital and he had a big fever; the doctor sent him home and said “Check with us in the morning.” They checked him in the morning, and he was gone. So then brother number three was born to make up. So that’s Steven. He lives in San Francisco.
TYG: What was your first career?
Kirk: I started work for the State of California, at the California State Personnel Board, doing most of the selection work: writing written tests, giving interviews, analyzing statistics, then moving on to salary and pay determinations. I did a lot of computer work for them and designed the State of California’s payroll system. After about 13 years, I went from there to the California State Lands Commission, doing environmental work. So whenever the State of California was issuing a permit for the use of their lands, most importantly the three mile strip off-shore—so oil platforms and pipelines and that sort of thing—[I was involved.] Later, I also got in charge of doing all permits for shipwrecks. That was the fun part of the job. Crazy people, crazy wrecks! But it was a lot of fun—the rest of it was just work. So I did that for another 17 years, then Joy [Kirk’s wife, a glass artist] and I retired. She also worked for the State. She was at the Personnel Board with me for a while, but then went to DMV and Department of Corrections.
TYG: […] I’ve heard hearsay that you hacked your own payroll system!
Kirk: [laughter] When we were finished with [creating] our payroll system—and this was one of the largest in the country: the State of California at that time had well over 700,000 employees—I was explaining to the powers that be that it was a good, working system, but it had some security issues. And they carefully told me “Thank you very much, but no, it doesn’t.” So they told me, basically, pack my bags and go away! So I went back to my desk, and sat down at my computer, and took the director of the largest department in state service, and changed his salary to one dollar a month. [laughter all around] Which got their attention! They fixed the problem, and told me I was never allowed on that system again. [lots of laughter]
TYG: So how did you first meet your wife [Joy]?
Kirk: She was hired in the State Personnel Board as a budget analyst. I was the budget analyst for the largest division in the board, and pretty much had everything my own way. All of the other division chiefs were scared to death of me, so I got whatever I wanted from my division. And Joy was told, on her second day of work, that her job was to go get things from me, because nobody else was willing to do that. We used to have some truly glorious fights. I had a secretary who came down the hall once who said: “Can we close the door? You two are getting awfully loud.” [laughter] After a couple of budget seasons, I thought, “Hmm! She’s the only person in the building who can stand up to me, and I need to know her better!” [laughter] So we started dating and bought an old house in Sacramento, an old Victorian. At that time, she had Belgian Sheepdogs, so we were in the dog show business for 15 years. We had an old Volkswagen camper, and we’d load up the dogs and the camper, and we’d take off for a weekend of dog shows.
TYG-Graphic Design: And they’re all gone?
Kirk: Yes. We finally got really tired of the politics of the dog show business, and we lost our last two big champions to cancer. Joy had basically delivered those puppies, so she couldn’t do that anymore. And then we both retired and moved up here, and she needed a fur fix. We sat down, and said “The only breed that neither of us has ever owned is a poodle.” So we got this guy [their male standard poodle, Shadow]. He was about two, three years old when Joy broke her leg and just couldn’t control him. He was too strong. So then we got this little girl [their other standard poodle, Kara] for Joy. They’re technically cousins—they share some grand-parents. They came from the same kennel down in California.
TYG-GD: But you’re not breeding them, so it doesn’t really matter…
Kirk: No. We’re done with that! You know, having a litter of puppies is just like having children. It’s a tremendous amount of work.
TYG-GD: For a finite period.
Kirk: Yes. And they’re almost cheaper than children—but not quite.
TYG: Well, they probably are cheaper. You don’t have to buy clothes for them…
Kirk: But there’s vet bills, and grooming bills… I have two grandchildren, and I much prefer grandchilding to parenting. [laughter] […]
TYG: When did you move here?
Kirk: 12 years ago, I think. From Sacramento. If I never see 105°F in the shade again, that will be just fine.
TYG-GD: I know! I’m deeply disappointed it’s going to be 80°F today! I’m hoping that fog bank will pay out…
Kirk: [indicates Shadow] I really have to watch him because he’s so dark—and he was really getting hot out on the beach this morning.
TYG: Where did you meet these two [indicates the poodles]?
Kirk: These two? This one [Shadow] we met online! [laughter] The lady who bred him had a partner, and they had 30 dogs between them. The other lady died of a heart attack, and the breeder of this one was left with all these dogs. She was going to keep him, but she was coming up to Brookings to breed one of her females, and Joy was talking to her online and told her to bring the puppy, and we would buy him. So we got him, and I’m afraid that the breeder has regretted it ever since! She loves this guy. And he is huge, for a poodle. A male poodle should be 60 to 70 pounds; he’s 105. It’s all muscle. He got all the big genes. When we went back to Susanville to get [the female], we took him. We’d been telling Suzie, the breeder, all along how big he was, and she kept on saying “Yeah, right.” He jumped out of the car and her eyes just went like this! [makes big circles around his eyes to indicate how wide they were] [laughter] And her husband, who does hunting dogs, said “You should have kept that one!” His mother is one of twenty poodles in the United States who is a master hunter!
TYG-GD: That’s interesting! I don’t associate poodles with hunting.
Kirk: That’s what they did originally—they were water retrievers. They’re from northern Germany, and our word “poodle” and our word “puddle” come from the same German word [“pud(d)eln,” to splash in water]. So they’re a puddle dog! And he’s got all the instincts. If my eyes were still good enough to hunt, he’d be right there. She [the female poodle] couldn’t care less. Her job is being adored. [laughter]
TYG: As Kirk explained earlier, she’s the princess of the family. […] So, when did you get interested in war games?
Kirk: The first war game I bought was called “Tactics II”. I was 11 years old, and I’ve been doing them ever since, both board games, and the miniatures. Mostly, my own personal favorites are Napoleonics and naval games, and anything before gunpowder. I like the ancient games. I don’t really get excited about modern war games, although I play them sometimes just because a lot of people I play with have to do World War II. Just have to.
TYG: Although some of the really modern ones have pretty cool tech.
Kirk: Now when you get on the computerized games, some of the graphics are just awesome.
TYG: I know, like [Sid Meier’s] Civilizations V.
TYG-GD: What attracts you to these games?
Kirk: First, just the “gameyness”—it’s a very difficult [military] problem to be solved. On the board games, what you get is a map, and you get little tiny cardboard counters that represent each of the original units. You have some arbitrary time before the battle, and then you re-fight it. So you can make them come out differently. That’s part of the challenge. Part of it is kind of a role play. I have a tendency, when I’m playing—particularly Napoleonics, which I’ve studied a lot—to sort of act like the individual marshals or Austrian generals. Same thing with the US Civil War. Whenever I’m the Confederates, I act like an idiot. [laughter]
TYG: I mean, seriously! Except for Stonewall [Jackson] and that breed.
Kirk: He was the worst one of them all! Longstreet, now, was a brilliant man. But Stonewall was just the weirdest dude you’ve ever seen. You know, he’s lucky he was done in by his own troops. If he’d been later in the war, he would have just been shown up.
TYG: Although he had some pretty good military tactics.
Kirk: He did, but they were basically “stand and die.” He never thought about anything like maybe, “Well, we should back up and go around.” And it worked in one battle, Bull Run—which is where he got his name. Another general looked at him and said, “There stands Jackson like a stone wall!” He was lucky, because the troops that were attacking at that point had just run out of steam. For example, he tried the same thing at Antietam and got his little butt kicked. He was a very, very religious man, and he wouldn’t fight a battle on Sunday: he thought it was bad luck. The problem with that was: the Union sometimes attacked on Sunday! [laughter] He was usually absent for some reason. Yes, he’s a very weird duck.
TYG: But there were a lot of good Confederate generals.
Kirk: There were. There were a lot more better Union generals than most people realize. They really started off with a real string of losers—what can I say.
TYG: I know! They ran through four generals in one campaign—for the Potomac campaign. And the only one that worked was my personal, military hero: Ulysses Grant.
Kirk: He was a good man, a good man. And Sherman! They understood modern war. Most of the Confederates were still fighting Napoleonic wars.
TYG-GD: What would the distinction be between Napoleonic and “modern” war, at that time?
Kirk: The very biggest difference was the rifled musket. In the Napoleonic time, and the reason they had these real tight lines and big formations, the guns couldn’t hit a barn door past about 100 yards. By the time of the US Civil war, we had muskets that were fairly accurate out to 500, 600 yards. So you tried a Napoleonic tactic, and put all your guys shoulder to shoulder, and went marching across the field, you were mowed down! The artillery was better too—most of the artillery was rifle, and could shoot three or four times further than it could in the Napoleonic period.
TYG: Although the Confederates may just not have had that.
Kirk: Oh, they had it. The Richmond gun foundry [Tredegar Iron Works, opened in 1837 in Richmond, VA] was one of the best in the world.
TYG: The Confederates had one big advantage: they could get ships from Liverpool.
Kirk: Yes, but they were mostly captured by the Union navy.
TYG: Yes, but think of the commerce! The blockade runners!
Kirk: The blockade runners, unfortunately for the Confederates, discovered that there was a lot of money to be made running the blockade with fine silk and spices and good wines, rather than with guns and ammunition. It’s a profit thing. [laughs]
TYG: So, what kind of war games do you have?
Kirk: In the miniatures, I have one set of basically Napoleonics; I have a few ancients—I have a small Celtic army, and I’m in the middle of building a small Roman army; it’s not painted yet. And then of course [I have] my navies: I have every warship built from 1895 to 1920. So I mostly can re-fight World War I navies, or the Russo-Japanese war [1904-1905]. Mostly the problem with those is space. You need a lot of space.
TYG-GD: I was going to ask where you played these!
Kirk: I have my gaming table in my room. It’s covering the guest bed. [laughter]
TYG-GD: Allen had a similar set-up for his trains! […]
TYG: I’ve heard that you have degrees in three sciences. What are they?
Kirk: I have a degree in chemistry, geology, and biology with minors in math, history, and English. Basically, I loved being a student. Discovered it didn’t pay well—eventually, I had to get a job.
TYG: I see! My informant [clears throat] has told me that you like explosions! Could this be the explanation that I, and perhaps others, have been seeking for sudden, middle-of-the-night explosions that seem to happen at least once a month?
Kirk: [laughter] It could be—but I haven’t done it up here. My first love was chemistry. My father was a physics teacher. When we lived on the ranch down south of Fresno, we had a lab that made fireworks. We’d spend 8 months out of the year making fireworks, and then we’d invite all our friends over on the 4th of July to set them off. We also had a one half scale model of a Civil War cannon. It did a really good job of firing steel ball bearings through cars. [exclamations and laughter] We had a couple of old, wrecked cars on the ranch, and we took the cannon down there one day and said “Let’s see what it will do!” We loaded it up, and bam! We went up and said “Oh look, it went through!” and then we went to the other side and said “Oh look! It went through!” [in a more dismayed tone of voice] “I hope the neighbors didn’t see it!” [laughter] At one point when I was in college I took the cannon and rolled it up three flights of stairs to my dorm. I put it just inside the door with a little sign that said “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here!” [laughter all around] Yes, I used to make lots of fireworks. I love it; I love blowing things up. But when we moved to Sacramento, I mostly left the stuff on the ranch. I brought some of my Dad’s stuff up after he died, and that caused a little incident in the house we were in in Sacramento! We were having a garage sale, and I decided that it was really kind of dangerous to have some of these chemicals inside the house. So I called up my local fire department, and said, “How do I dispose of these? I’d like to be a little safer.” They said: “Don’t move. We’ll be right there.” It must have been a slow day, because pretty soon we had three fire trucks and a couple of cop cars, and a HAZMAT team, and they were taking yellow tape and [cordoning] off our front yard, and the neighbors were coming over to see what I’d done. [laughter] Finally, when everybody calmed down and had left, the HAZMAT guy came over to me and said, “You know, we really appreciate that you didn’t just dump these down the sewer. There is a disposal ground—one of the county dumps specializes in hazardous materials. Normally, they’d charge you. But here, here’s a note. You just take it up there, and they’ll take it.” [laughter] You know, it wasn’t really potent stuff, but in the wrong hands it could have made a mess.
TYG: Thanks so much for your time!