Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 69, June 1 2017

Interview with Katrina Wynne

 The Yachats Gazette enjoyed a wide-ranging conversation with Ms. Wynne, who wears many hats: “Forester, gardener, Soulful Counselor/psychotherapist, mediator, minister, officiant, Death Doula, Natural Health Educator, landlord, political activist, community organizer, Tarot & oracle expert and international teacher/writer/lecturer, professional radio broadcaster, podcaster, budding videographer, journalist, photographer, graphic artist, motorcyclist, bicyclist, hermit and aging Super Woman.”

TYG: So how did you come to Yachats?
That’s my favorite question. I think everybody in Yachats has some incredible story about how they landed here.

TYG: Seems like it!
I think it does seem like it. Okay, so... I was at a process work conference in Waldport, with the Mindells...

TYG: Process work?
Yes! Do you know Arnie and Amy Mindell? They’re delightful people, wise people—they teach all over the world. I’ve been studying with them since 1988. I was at one of their workshops in Waldport, while I was in graduate school up in Seattle. I came down on my motorcycle. And then I thought “Oh, I’ll go down to Yachats for lunch and find a nice, little place to eat.” But keep in mind, this was back in 1991. And when I came down here, there was no place to eat. Nothing that was really open for lunch that I would eat at. At that point Blythe had a cute little restaurant—I can’t recall what it was called—but that’s where I really wanted to eat, but it was closed. So right across the street there was this real estate agent, and with motorcycles you have to have a very wide radius for turning. So I thought: “Okay, I’ll just turn into that parking lot.” And then I thought, “Well, you know what, why don’t I just go in and see if there’s some property!” Because I’d been looking for some property for a couple of years, and I had very specific qualities for that property that I was guided by the trees to look for. I talked to the real estate agent, and he goes, “Well, we have either time to look at one property down in Yachats, or two down in Beaver Creek.” And I said, “Well, I’ll look at the one in Yachats.” And we drove through, we drove out, and I said, “I’ll take it.” And so like the Fool, I jumped in. And like the Fool, I ended up making Yachats my home, because the trees were calling to me, because the land had just been clear-cut. I didn’t even look at the house; I looked at the land. Trees speak to me, and they were crying, and saying, “Look, we need somebody to help us heal.” And so I made a commitment to live here, and to help those trees heal. And now they have a good 27 years of growth on them. They’re looking pretty good.

TYG: I think I know what you mean by the trees talking to you. I’m going to ask you if this is what you mean, but sometimes it almost seems like you can feel their radiant pain.
Yes, I agree with you. Sometimes you can feel pain of different aspects of nature and people.

TYG: It just looks wrong, sometimes.
Definitely; it’s a shocker. I know the first time I saw a clear-cut, I was absolutely shocked. And that was back in 1972 or 73.

TYG: It’s a bad practice, I think. I don’t have a problem using wood, but I think you should do it in an eco-friendly way, which to me means using a high tech solution that’s something like a multi-level farm, where you let them grow five years and then have a harvest.
Well, let’s just say that trees are a natural entity, and they have their own, natural way of growing, and the less we interfere with their natural way of growing, the happier they are. If you think of trees as the USDA does, as an agricultural product to be harvested. A lot of things in this world have been turned into property and turned into resources and ignored their own, natural calling—their natural way of keeping the balance. So of course, in my work—no matter what level of work I’m doing—balance, like it sounds like it is for you, is very important. Everything has its own sense of how much water, and sunshine, and air, and space it needs. And you know, people are that way too! And I like to work with people.

TYG: I absolutely agree with that. I think that treating these amazing natural forests as property is wrong. I think that if they have been specifically set up to be agricultural, I don’t think it’s so bad. Again, like one of those tile tree farms, where the trees are manipulated to make the maximum out of wood, and the least possible devastation to natural forests. I think there’s something special that the natural forests have.
Hmm. Well you probably like the idea of the bamboo commercial forests, because they do have a very quick growth period and are easily harvested.

TYG: I haven’t heard of it, but it does sound interesting.
Yes, a lot of products are made out of bamboo. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of glues and resins and toxic things that are used to put those products together, such as flooring, so it’s kind of like a mixed bag. [...] But anyway, I totally agree with you: the more natural, the better. And I’m the kind of person where I start asking questions like, “Well where did this come from?” and “Who grew it?” and “How were the people treated?” and “How was the land treated?” and “How were the animals treated?” and “Did they use fertilizers?” and “Did they use pesticides?” I probably ask more questions than the average person, which can be very irritating for some people! [laughs] 

TYG: I don’t have a problem with that. I think if you want to know more, more power to you.
Right on, brother! [high fives]

TYG: Also, there are very different kinds of fertilizers. Some fertilizers are these artificially made stuffs that are only designed for growth speed—there’s no balance implied. But if you’re utilizing natural fertilizers like manure, I’m okay with that. And even if you could somehow design a [fertilizer] that has balance in mind, that helps growth speed but also keeps the plant healthy, then I probably wouldn’t have a problem with that.
Let’s use an example since we’re talking about this. Let’s say you’re using chicken manure for fertilizer. Chicken manure itself can be an excellent fertilizer for certain applications. But then you would get, “What have the chickens been eating?” “Where did their food come from—is it organic or were they eating GMO grain?” So basically that’s being passed on from one level of digestion to the next. I’m very careful about those things as well. [...] I put myself through college the first few years by working at a natural foods store, and then when I graduated, I actually owned my own store for about five years. It was called Community Foods. One of the things we did was not only provide the healthiest food that was available, but we worked personally and distributed food from local growers that we knew were growing things in a certain way. We actually were very instrumental in supporting [an organization which was] at that time called CCOF, which was Certified California Organic Farmers. Later on, this influenced Oregon Tilth. They had a very, very high standard of what was considered organic growing. What’s interesting about that politically is that the USDA did not want to grant them their certification, because they were concerned that it would bring questions up for the general public about, “Well, if this is organic, what is everything else?” So that’s when the USDA decided to come up with their own label for organic, which is a sub-standard quality. They allow chemicals and things that, say, the CCOF would never allow. So as a store, we were actually purchasing food from those farmers who were CCOF-certified, distributing them to the other stores in town, and also visiting the farmland. This was in Santa Cruz, so down in Watsonville, there’s a lot of farmland down there. This is very political these days, but there are a lot of undocumented workers, and I got to witness first-hand how they lived, how they were treated, how they had these little bitty huts with no bathrooms, no running water, in the middle of a field where planes were flying over them and spraying them with chemicals. And I have to admit, that’s why I’m voting yes on 21-177, which is a measure that [came up] about aerial spraying right here in Lincoln County. I’m not in favor of spraying aerially, because I’ve seen it affect friends of mine; it would affect me where I live, it affects our water, the land, nature, everything. 

TYG: Very, very bad idea. It’s just too imprecise!
Yes. And there’s not enough of a policing—I’ll put it that way. It has no teeth. There’s no follow-through.

TYG: And there’s no good way to do it, either. Even if you had all the policing you wanted, there’s no real way that I can think of to truly identify the range of aerial spraying, because the planes move too slowly, and there’s too much spreading time, too much variability in the wind.
So you have the problem with drift, and not a lot of accountability. And then you have to know who to sue, and what people don’t know is that you can’t really sue the land-owner who hired the plane or the helicopter; you actually have to sue the driver, the pilot. Because they’re the ones responsible, ultimately, for any kind of drift.
TYG: Wow! That doesn’t work. That doesn’t make sense at all!
I can’t give legal advice, but this is just something I learned from a friend of mine who went through this and went to court and had a very, very difficult time of that. [...] Think of it this way: If you hire someone to do a job and they do a faulty job, are you responsible for the faulty job? Are you responsible for hiring those people? Anyway... So I’ve lived here since before you were born, and I plopped in here back in 1991, bought this clear-cut property, and it’s funny, because I’d just finished graduate school in Seattle, and I had my Master’s degree in counseling psychology.

TYG: So that’s how you made your living, trying to help nature.
It’s kind of like my primary job was helping the land, helping nature; but my day job was helping people deal with their own out-of-balanceness in life, and helping them find their own balance through counseling.

TYG: Two very interconnected fields.
They are for me, because both of them have to do with honoring peoples’ nature, and helping them find balance and find their own way of being, in a world that’s very out of balance.

TYG: Absolutely. There’s too much need for profit, and too much reliance on old ways, ways that would have worked fine before people understood. In terms of drilling oil, I can’t blame the first pioneers all that much. They had no idea! They had no idea what would happen to the environment. [...] So what kind of counseling do you do?
First off, I would say I’m rather eclectic. Also, in my 26 years here in Yachats, and practicing in Oregon, the laws have been changed. Currently I practice what I call “Soulful Counseling,” which means I’m a minister who also does spiritual counseling. My background and training, of course, is my Master’s degree in counseling psychology, as well as my background and training in process work as well as psychotherapy. Another thing that I bring into my counseling knowledge, but don’t necessarily bring into a session, is my background and training in metaphysics, and understanding people and life from a whole different point of view. That actually ends up being more of the work I’m doing these days. I’m doing less on the individuals/couples/family counseling, and also mediation (meaning personal mediation, not legal) and life-coaching—even though I’m still doing those things—and more in this other area, that is another funny story about moving to Yachats. For 20 years, before moving here, I was what one would call a solitary practitioner of metaphysics, tarot, I Ching. So I’ve studied tarot cards, metaphysics, oracles—many, many other things, and only practiced them privately for 20 years. And the ironic thing is that I moved to little, bitty, old Yachats...

TYG: ...and there’s a demand for it!
People are asking me to teach classes, to do private sessions, and I end up starting a little psychic fair here. And then I handed it over to Violet, and Violet turned it into a big, huge, wonderful event which is called Pathways to Transformation, which has been going on... this will be the 21st year. I actually teach all over the world. I’m invited to teach in China; I’ve taught in New Zealand, I’ve taught in Europe. I just came back from teaching in New York City at a tarot and psychology conference. I have a few books out on tarot. So that’s actually where a lot of my passion is, and it does tie in with the counseling skills, because what I’m doing in the tarot world is teaching [card] readers how to really raise the bar on their skills and their ethics, and how to turn tarot lessons from the stereotype of predictions and fortune-telling, and more into how it can be therapeutic and supportive for people in their life. So that’s a great passion of mine.

TYG: So could you explain to me and the readers what tarot is? I haven’t actually ever heard of it.
Certainly! So tarot cards typically are a deck of 78 cards. A playing card deck tends to have 52 cards in it, and what you call four suits. The four suits go from the ace to the ten, and then you’ve got what we call your three people cards, or court cards. So tarot cards are an interesting combination, going back some four or five hundred years, basically to northern Italy, where someone decided to combine playing cards, but they added another card for each suit because they wanted to add a woman, which is the queen. So you have your page, your knight, your queen and your king, which are the four people cards, then you have your ten and what we call the pips, one through ten, or the ace through ten. And you’ve got the four suits. But what they added to that, or combined with it, which makes it unique to tarot, is what we call the 22 cards of the major arcana. And the 22 cards of the major arcana, going back to deep, deep, metaphysical knowledge, represent what I think of as a visual book of wisdom, just like when somebody looks at the Bible or the Quran, or many, many other books of wisdom. There’s a great deal of wisdom, but they’re pictures. As they say, you know, a picture speaks a thousand words, so each one of those cards has a million stories in it. And when you combine the cards, it really expands the story in a very, very unique way. 

TYG: So it’s a very interpretive venture.
Ah, that’s a great question. For some people it’s very interpretive. For the way I work with the cards, with my background in psychology and especially in process work with the Mindells, I actually don’t try to interpret the cards, I try to bring in the experience the cards and my client’s intuition, and my intuition, and really bringing the lessons and the energy of the cards to life. So, remember earlier when we were talking about listening to the trees? And feeling the trees? That’s what we do with the cards. We listen to them, we feel them, and they speak to us in a unique language, so it’s not one interpretation fits all. That would be sort of like the old card-science way of working with them.

TYG: So, just explaining to the readers here: I feel like often this kind of stuff can sound like “whoo hoo,” but I know what you’re talking about. There is some sort of weird thing out there that science hasn’t quite uncovered yet. I don’t know what it is, and it may be people putting interpretations on things, but I choose to believe that there is something there.
Well, actually, quantum physics has tried to describe this, and one term that kind of that kind of fits with this picture—and I learned this from Arnie Mindell, who himself is an MIT physicist in his past—is this thing, called an entanglement. An entanglement means, there’s something going on way over there...

TYG: Two atoms that are directly paired.
Yes, right. So two things are happening. It doesn’t appear that they’re connected, but they actually are connected. So let me put it this way: So, do you dream? Do you have dreams at night when you sleep?

TYG: Yes, absolutely.
Katrina: Alright. And is it your belief that when you have a dream, there’s maybe a message for you there sometimes? Or it’s telling you something about your day? Or are they ever prophetic—that means, are they telling you about something that’s going to happen in the future?

TYG: I have never experienced a prophetic dream, but I would not be surprised if it happened. Just because, again, there are odds. And I have a very wild imagination. That’s just something I am. I choose to believe in the polycosmos, because it just makes sense. I’ve seen several very good book interpretations; they’re fictional books, but they are written by very strong scientific authors. One of my favorite authors is a person called Neal Stephenson, who writes amazing stuff. You want to learn more about a very good and intuitive, working interpretation of the polycosm, then his book called Anathem is very good for it.
Thank you. And along that same idea: Imagine that there are these different levels and different dimensions within our current dimension. And we, as human beings, are kind of limited, when you look at the spectrum for instance.

TYG: The spectrum of light.
: Well, there’s the spectrum of light, but then there are other vibrations that our eyes do not detect, right? We can see the rainbow, but we don’t see the X-rays, we don’t see microwaves. [...] So imagine that everything is vibration, and there are certain images that vibrate in your dream realm, and other images that vibrate in your waking, day-to-day life. Now imagine that there’s a dimension beyond your dreams that’s trying to communicate with you, but it can’t communicate in everyday language. It has to reach you through what I call a sort of intermediary language. It can be the language of your dreams. To me, that’s the way the tarot cards work: They’re an intermediary language between your everyday, conscious, linear thinking, and something that’s beyond that. So to me, each card is like a snapshot of a dream. [...] So the fun thing is, I’ve combined both of my worlds, and I call myself a “forest mystic.” [laughs] Because I live out in the woods, and I’m connected to the trees, and I feel very protective of the forest, and at the same time I totally vibrate with the metaphysical world, and all this cosmic consciousness, and caring about the Earth, and the people, and the universe, and understanding how to vibrate with it all. And it’s not something many people can talk about, and I appreciate that you kind of speak this language a bit.

TYG: To be honest, for me, part of it grows out of thinking further about the free will versus predestination debate. My final conclusion, you could call it, of one line of my inquiry, is that if there is no free will, there is no polycosm. Because if there is no free will, everything will happen one way. And that scares the he** out of me, to be honest.
How about this? You were born with your genetics, right? You have the gift of your mother and your father to make who you are. And that’s kind of like your potential in this lifetime, among other things. But guess what: You get to decide what you do with it, and that’s the free will. So you can’t change at this point who your parents were. Right? That’s the fated part in this sense. But what you do is completely within your hands. So there’s this beautiful dance between the two, I think.

TYG: Absolutely. Seeing what you are allowed to do, and what you can do. For me, what’s has been allowed to do, is to be a human being. I choose to believe that as long as you have a few basic genetic parts, you can do just about anything that’s physically possible. And the way I interpret that is that I plan to become a scientist and an engineer, and I choose to believe in the beauty of cyclical motion—cycles are cool, but I also love literal cyclical motions.

TYG: Spirals I like, but I’m thinking more about wheels, and gears. I’m fascinated by the scientific, and the hard.
Well see, that’s the cool thing about metaphysics. Because meta-physics means people, intuitive, having visions, who prophesied, or had a way of knowing other than linear thought. And it’s taken science a while to catch up with them.

TYG: That’s an interesting way of putting it. I think that yes, sometimes that happens, but also it’s logical outgrowth. Because I feel that outgrowth, in terms of what can happen, goes a lot faster than physical experimentation. The mind works a lot faster than the body.
It does! In fact, some people say that the mind works faster than the speed of light. I’ve been doing a little research in that area and I still have more to learn, but it’s a fascinating area for me.

TYG: I find that sometimes I [have to wonder] “How does this work?” then other times, Blam! It all comes to me.
Have you heard the word “synchronicity”?

TYG: I think so. I’m not entirely sure what you mean by it in this context.
Well, meaningful coincidence.

TYG: Yes, inspiring coincidence.
Yes! It’s like you were thinking about somebody, and the next moment, they call you.

TYG: I know what you mean about that—and it’s weird when it happens!
So you might actually find the work of Carl Jung interesting. That’s what my presentation was in New York, just a couple of weeks ago. I’ll give you the title: “Life Is But a Dream: Jung, Process Work in the Dreamtime, and Tarot.” What I was exploring, and what I was educating people about, were the actual theories behind Jung’s work, his actual ways of describing them. He was very interested in science, and being able to have repeatable patterns, but he drew a lot of inspiration from metaphysics, and from myths, fairy tales, and stories from around the world, because he started noticing, as Joseph Campbell did, these patterns that would keep repeating. And that’s why he came up with the idea of the collective unconscious. He’s saying, well, there must be some kind of connection going on between us that we can’t see. He used the image—or many people have used the image—of an iceberg. So what we know is that little piece of the iceberg above the water’s surface, but below is our personal conscious and the collective unconscious.

TYG: 95%. I think that the collective unconscious could be—I don’t know this for sure, because our science hasn’t progressed far enough—it could be built into genetics.
Oh, now you’re getting into the work of Carl Calleman! Carl Calleman worked for the World Health Organization. He was a Swedish cellular biologist, but he was also fascinated with metaphysics, and he studied the Mayan calendar. By studying the Mayan calendar, for him, it clicked, and it coincided with evolutionary leaps in biology. From there, he went on to come up with an amazing idea, which he calls the purposeful universe. Which is again this whole idea about how much is fated and intentioned, versus how much is free will. So if you ever get a chance to read the Purposeful Universe—I don’t want to give too much away, but he basically, ultimately says that in our own cells there are unknown aspects of our DNA, which themselves—and this is my interpretation—are like an antenna, that picks up these signals from the center of the universe. It’s fascinating.

TYG: The center of the universe, hmm.
The center of the universe, yes.

TYG: I wonder where that would be, because we think that’s somewhere within the light-radius of our universe, but of course we have no way of knowing that. It could be quadrillions of light years, far beyond what’s actually happened so far. Because we’re only in year 14 billion, or something like that, 15 billion. If it’s quadrillions away—because we’re pretty sure that the universe expands faster than light, or that’s what we think—so I’m wondering... I mean, we know that there are processes that operate faster than light—we know that for certain now. We have measured this, because we’ve seen things coming out of a black hole! [...] I feel like perhaps there may be two levels of logic. There’s the logic that we know of so far, that we can measure, which is the logic of conscious thought. And then I’m wondering if there is some sort of logic that we will eventually uncover, that is a much deeper logic, that is tied perhaps directly into our cells, or our genetics, or perhaps it’s some deep physical property of the universe. This is again completely speculative, but I would be surprised if that were the case.
That’s what I love about process work in psychology. It’s one of the few modalities in psychology that honors the Earth, and the universe, and all these unknown things, and realizes that there are ways that they are trying to communicate to us, and through us, and with us. And that kind of goes back to the Dreamtime, and the indigenous peoples such as the aboriginal Australians, who have a sense of the Earth dreaming us up. And so then you have to ask the question, “Are we the dreamer? Or are we the one being dreamed up?”

TYG: This is a question I’ve always had. [...]
So you can imagine, with all these fantastic thoughts that we’re talking about, these conversations... I don’t know about you, but I don’t get to have these conversations every day with people.

TYG: Huh.
There are only a few people that have the same fascinations. So that’s why I spend a lot of time out by myself in the woods. [laughs] [...] And so, back to the question of why I came to Yachats: it was a leap of faith, but also, I think Yachats was dreaming me up to be here. So, I just really appreciate that you reached out to me—I was surprised, and interested that you did it on my birthday, the same day I was doing the presentation in New York.

TYG: Oh, I had no idea!
I totally got that it was all kind of lined up. So that in itself was very intuitive of you.
TYG: Again, I had no idea!
Well that’s the fun part for me! I have students from all over the world, because I also teach online, and I have my podcast, so I have people listening to that all over the world. It’s just amazing with the new technology how we can really reach out and connect with so many people. Our sense of community truly expands. I’m very excited about that. And thank you for letting me be in the little old Yachats Gazette!

TYG: Thank you so much!

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 68, May 1 2017

A printable version of Issue 68 can be downloaded here.

The Little Log Church

The Yachats Gazette was pleased to be able to speak with Mary Crook, Events Coordinator, and Donna Hirschman, Saturday Volunteer, about the history of the Little Log Church, located on the corner of 3rd and Pontiac Streets.

The Little Log Church, Yachats, OR
 TYG: Do you want to tell us a little bit about the history [of the church]?
Sure. The Little Log Church was finished in 1930. The lot here was a double lot, and it was purchased in 1929 by a minister [Rolla J. Phelps] who became the first pastor here.

TYG-Graphic Design: Isn’t it unusual for a minister to purchase his own lot?
Well, he was able to do it, even though it was $200, which was a lot of money back in that time. He had to get permission from the group he was affiliated with. He served this area--it was called the Bay View Mission. He served Waldport, Yachats, and up Yachats River for quite a while. He and his wife lived in Summit, Oregon, between Newport and Corvallis, in the Coast Range. And [before moving here], they made this trip monthly, by wagon. It was not an easy trip.

TYG: Does that town even exist anymore?
Yes, it’s still here. But it’s small! [laughter] So, he came through Yachats and he wrote “As I was coming through Yachats, I was impressed by its need.” So he applied to have a permanent church here and serve this area.

TYG-GD: What denomination was he?
It was an evangelical denomination, the Oregon Conference of the Evangelical Church of Oregon. So they got volunteer help, of course, but Reverend Phelps put together the church pretty much by hand with logs donated from timber stands up the Yachats River. So he was then able to provide regular services, and Sunday School. Mrs. Phelps, his wife, played this organ that you see here during services. They were in their mid-50’s when they came here to start this church. The bell that is at the front of the church was donated by a church in Portland.

TYG: That must have been a trek to get it down here!
They actually had to use a ferry. The highway wasn’t finished, so it was no easy task. But they did it! And along about 1993, the building was condemned because it was unsafe. The logs were rotting, the foundation needed to be restored. So the City had to decide, “Well, should we tear it down and put a parking lot here? We always need parking...” [laugh] And the community said “No, you’re not getting rid of this!” And so they had a volunteer team, a lot of whom were retired people, who helped restore the church. They literally took it apart. They had to get logs to replace the rotten logs. They saved as much as they possibly could: you can see here some of the glass--that wavy glass--that’s the original glass, and as much as they could keep, they did. They’d had a wood stove here, but they didn’t have heat.

TYG: So they had to modernize the heating system.
Yes! And they put in track lighting so we have art shows and things like that. It’s been restored as close as possible to the original layout in the shape of a cross.

TYG-GD: When was the [extra room at the back] added?
That was in 1996, so after the restoration.

TYG: So the restoration happened pretty quickly, then.
Mostly. That was 5,500 man hours of volunteer time. [Mary gets up and shows us a picture of the volunteers.] These are some of the volunteers--this guy just happened to be riding down the street [on his bicycle].

TYG-GD: Aw, I recognize some of those faces! ... So, what happened between the 30’s and the 90’s? That’s quite a time span.
It turned out that there were more people with the Presbyterian congregation in this area than Evangelicals, and so the Presbyterian congregation took it over in the mid-1950’s. It remained a Presbyterian church until the congregation outgrew the building, and they built a new one.

TYG: That building is pretty beautiful as well.
It’s lovely! And it’s called the Church of the Agate Windows because, when they built that church, the pastor at the time said, “I want to have something that really reflects this area. We don’t necessarily want to have stained glass, but let’s have some windows that reflect the natural resources of this area.” So the whole community got together and started gathering agates.

TYG: I’m guessing it’s double-paned windows with the agates in the middle?
Well, I’m not sure exactly if they’re double-paned with agates in the middle. But they had to come up with a special epoxy so that the unpolished agates could adhere to the surface. And there are six panels--very, very heavy.

TYG-GD: Did they slice them? I can’t remember if they’re flat on one side.
No, I don’t think so. [Turning to the area behind the pulpit] This picture here [of the three wise men seated on camels] was painted by two art teachers in 1955, I believe. One of them was a very avid agate collector. He had a collection you wouldn’t believe, so he donated a lot of his private collection. He said, “Oh, finally, I can get rid of these things!” [laughter] So this was the seed, as it were, of the Church of the Agate Windows. So we have a little collection box in the corner there with some of the agates that were collected for that project.

Three Wise Men
So I’ll tell you a little story about that painting: There were two art teachers who lived at Ten Mile. They decided to provide a painting for the Christmas pageant here. So one of them goes to his wife, and says, “Could you give us some fabric that we could use to paint for the Christmas pageant?” So she just gave him a bedsheet, thinking that he was going to tear it up and use a piece of it. Well, they painted it on the whole bedsheet! [laughter] They came and they hung it; they had the Christmas pageant--well, they were going to have it. But this would be in December, and if you picture what happens in December... it was a dark and stormy night, and one of the artists woke up in the middle of the night, and he started to think about that painting. He calls his partner, and he says, “You know, we’ve got to go back into town and check that painting, because I’m not sure if we painted the correct number of legs on that painting.” [laughter] So they drove up here and counted the legs, and it was correct. [laughter] But you know how you worry about something in the middle of the night? So that’s the story of the painting.

TYG-GD: And then somebody got a frame for it?
Yes. And they actually put it on masonite. We do have curtains that we can pull across in front of the painting when we have special occasions like weddings. It works very well in December, but it’s a little distracting in June. We did have a very nice wedding a number of years ago, and it was the grand-daughter of one of the artists. It was in June, but she wanted that painting on full display.

TYG-GD: You perform weddings, correct?
I have a wedding service, called “Weddings by the Sea,” which I started in 1995. I do a lot of weddings here, and then I go to places like the Overleaf, or the beach, or the bluff by the Adobe, private homes, fishing boats, one--and only one--on horse-back. [laughter]

TYG: That wasn’t a good one, I’m guessing? How do you do that, logistically, on a horse?
Well, I’ll tell you about it briefly. It was over in Coburg, near Eugene, at a riding stable. The couple met; they were horse people. And it was pouring rain, pouring. We waited about an hour and a half in case the rain would let up, but it would not let up, and I was very grateful, because they had planned to ride one mile to where they wanted to have the ceremony. And that meant one mile back! So I only had to ride about 30 feet, because they had it in the indoor arena--and I was still sore for three days! [lots of laughter] [...] I decided that would be my one and only wedding on horseback.

But speaking of animals, that brings me to the Blessing of Animals that we have here on the grounds every October. It’s the first Sunday in October, which is the Sunday closest to the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Our [former] curator, Isabel Prescott, who used to live across the street here, was very fond of St. Francis. So when she passed away, we decided to have a sculpture of St. Francis created by Brian McEneny and we put it in the garden in her memory. So then we decided that since it was the garden of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals, that we would have an animal blessing every year. So we have had mostly dogs, but we have had the two ferrets, and a garden king snake, a bearded dragon, a rat, a tortoise, and one of Lauralee Svendsgaard’s donkeys. [laughter] Oh, yes, and the fire department goats.

TYG: I like how we can all just say “the two ferrets” and we all know what we’re talking about. [laughter] [The two ferrets belong to Council member Greg Scott, and the goats belong to Fire Chief Frankie Petrick.]
And we had a llama one year. So we’ve had quite a menagerie of animals being blessed. I can’t remember when I started this, but it’s an annual thing, and we usually have a dozen or so animals.
Donna: And this past year we had a lot of visitors in town who brought their animals; a lot of them are dog people.
Mary: You know, people will do just about anything for their animal, and so it means a lot. But I get in trouble, because every year for the past three years I’ve been blessing the moles, so the neighbor across the street said, “I wish you wouldn’t bless the moles.” [laughter]

TYG-GD: So when did the museum aspect enter into all of this?
When the Presbyterian church was finished, up on 7th Street, then this property was turned over to Lincoln County, which in turn turned it over to the City of Yachats. The provision was that it would stay a museum.

TYG: In 1989, right?
Yes, I believe so.

TYG-GD: Does it have a specific focus, as a museum?
Well, it’s twofold: to house items that represent local history, and items from families of this area that they might have donated, and to showcase local artists.

TYG-GD: Ok! I was just wondering, because I wasn’t sure where that electric hair curler fit in.
Mary: [laughs]
That was in storage at the Heceta Lighthouse Bed and Breakfast. Before it became a bed and breakfast, it was run by Lane Community College, and they had a lot of historical items there. So they had that on display, then they put it in one of the closets, in one of the bedrooms. Then they expanded, and added a few more bedrooms. They didn’t have room for the hair curler, so Michelle Korgan--I think we saw each other in the parking lot at the grocery store--said, “Would the Little Log Church like a hair curler?” And I said, “Oh, yes!” [laughter] So we acquired a hair curler. And that is one of our most attractive attractions! People go over there and they either say, “What in the world is that?!” Or they say, “Ohhh, I remember those! I have a burn on the back of my neck!” [laughter] So there are either memories, or curiosity.

TYG-GD: Well, it does look like a Medusa.
So the hair curler is a very strong attraction, as is our sea shell collection.

TYG: Yes, it’s a beautiful collection!   
TYG-GD: I remember when we first moved here, I came in and saw the sea shell collection and was really inspired! It took me a few years to realize that we don’t have any of those shells here! [laughter]
There was a Yachats resident by the name of Alice Stein, who passed away a number of years ago. She had a huge shell collection, down at Ten Mile. In 1964 she and her husband started traveling all around the world, and their object was to find as many sea shells as they could. I have been in their home--after he passed away--and I would not be surprised if she had one million sea shells. In the house, in the basement, floor-to-ceiling shelves... So before she passed, she parceled out as many as she could to universities, and libraries, and the Little Log Church. So we acquired a minute fraction of her collection. It took our curator, Karl Christianson, about one year, coming in on Thursdays, to identify the shells and make a list of their common name, their scientific name, where they were found, and then create a coordinated number list, so that people can say, “Oh, what is number four?” and then look at the list.

TYG-GD: That must have been a fun project, though!
Yes, it was--and it’s a big attraction.

TYG-GD: Are they lacquered?
I don’t think they’re preserved.

TYG: What else is really cool and a big attraction?
Well, this organ here is an operable organ, and it’s a pump organ. It’s used for things like weddings, or Christmas concerts.

Bellows Organ at the Little Log Church

TYG-GD: So you actually have to press the pedals in order for it to play.
Right. That was donated to the church by Virginia Gilmore, who owned the Rock Park Cottages down the street and is a strong member of the community. It was in her home for a long time.

TYG: Very odd proportions! Just considering the height of the bench section versus the key section.
Well, and you notice that the bench is tilted. That’s so the organist can get down and really pump.

TYG-GD: Do you have many organists who know how to do that?
I’m so glad you brought that up, because we’re recruiting. If you know of anybody... The organist we used when I moved here was Inez Lush. Her husband was also a musician. Inez just played that organ beautifully, and she was succeeded by Cheryl Wade, who was the organist for the Presbyterian church. And when Cheryl and her husband moved out of the area, we recruited another organist from Waldport, who retired about two years ago. It’s getting harder and harder to find people with that skill. 

TYG-GD: I don’t suppose that Milo, jack-of-all-trades, can play it?
Mary: It’s a completely different instrument.
Donna: Another thing on these too is that they have all those stops. You have to be able to [adjust] them while you’re playing, and while you’re pumping. And you’re using [this lever beneath the keyboard] too, like a bellows. So it’s not like a piano would be today, or even a modern organ. My grandfather had one like this, and he was marvelous at it. But he’d be playing, and then all of a sudden you’d see him pushing and pulling the [stops], because they have to be at a certain level to get the tones you want.

TYG: Are these the original benches?
These pews were given to the Little Log Church when it was built--it was finished in 1930--by a church in Philomath. It holds close to 60 people--I say 58 very good friends. [laughter]

TYG: If we go back in that other room, we really didn’t talk much about what’s in there...
I have something to tell you about that! [We move from the chapel part of the building back to the side entrance and the rear room of the museum.]

TYG: This is the sea shell collection--these are all numbered?
All numbered, and the coordinating list is here. [...] Now, a year ago November, so November 2015, we had a visit from this little girl, all grown up [shows us the little girl in an old photo]--her name was Marilyn Myers. This was what she looked like when she lived here, at the Little Log Church. Her father, Lyman Myers, was the pastor here in 1940-41. This is Dorothy Myers’s wedding dress. Marilyn Myers came to visit us, and she spoke to a group here at the Log Church about what it was like growing up in Yachats. And Dorothy and Marilyn came to visit us in 2001. I happened to be on duty as a volunteer that day. So they came in, they introduced themselves, and they had not been in this part of the museum ever, because when they lived here the manse was here, the house where the pastor and his family lived. So Marilyn and her mom were walking around the museum, and looked at all of the pictures, and they looked at this picture here. And Mrs. Myers said, “Hey, I think that’s Daddy in that picture!” meaning Lyman Myers. So I got a chair and pulled the picture down so they could get a closer look at it, and this man here, with his arm at a right angle, was Lyman Myers about 1940, smelt fishing. You can see the smelt nets [in the photo], how big they are. And here is a smelt net that was donated to us. You can see how big it was, and how heavy.

TYG: It’s a big piece of wood, but it’s interesting to see how they’ve done the netting, how light it is.
That was a hand-made net.

TYG: It’s beautifully done.
And so when Marilyn spoke to us, she brought us a few of the articles that were part of her memories here in this church. Marilyn brought a big, blue bowl--that was what her mother made bread in, almost every day. And she brought this toy chicken. That was given to her by the woman who owned the cottages where the bookstore is now, Planet Yachats, C&K and all that. If you put a marble in the chicken’s head, and push the head down, the marble will come out and “lay an egg.” [laughter]

Marble-Laying Chicken and Bread Bowl

Donna: And I think one of my favorite pieces is this crazy quilt.

TYG-GD: Why is it called “crazy”?
It’s all different kinds of patterns, and all different kinds of materials, silk and velvet.

TYG: It’s the quilt equivalent of collage.
It’s all hand-stitched, with all different kinds of embroidery.
Mary: And it took three years to make, between 1880 and 1883.

TYG: Well thank you so much for your time!
Thank you very much--it was a pleasure seeing you!

NOTE: The Yachats Gazette had a last minute update from Mary Crook about a potential donation to the Little Log Church: a carillon!  A Yachatian couple have offered to donate this recorded, state-of-the-art, bell chime system with up to 2,000 options, including chimes on the hour or at designated times during the day, or even special occasion peals. The City of Yachats needs to approve this, and the Little Log Church would of course make it suitable to the nature of West Third St. (and not Big Ben, for example). The Presbyterian church had a carillon system, but now that seems to have gone silent. The donors picked this carillon for the Little Log Church specifically.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 67, April 1 2017

Click here for a printable version of Issue 67.

Interview with Bert Harley

Bert Harley is a long-time resident of Yachats, and the Gazette caught up with him to hear some of his fascinating stories.

TYG: So, you were born here, is that correct?
No, no, I was born in Sheridan, Wyoming. In the northern part. And when I was eight years old, I came out to Oregon. We lived out in Portland for a while, in 1933. There weren’t any jobs around.

TYG: Yes, right in the middle of the Depression.
Depression era, yes... So Dad and Mom, they picked up and went down to California for a couple of years, and my younger brother and sister were born there. Then we got malaria down there.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: You got malaria in California?!
Yes. I took lots of quinine! Went back to Colorado for another couple of years, then came back out here. We lived down in Scappoose when the war started, when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor—I was 16 at the time. Then I worked in the shipyards for a while, in Portland—Swan Island. I worked there for about eight months and got pneumonia and was in the hospital for a week or so. Recuperating, I went down and joined the Navy! 

TYG: So you volunteered?
Oh yes. You volunteered in the Navy; you got drafted in the Army. You didn’t want to be in the Army, you volunteered! [laughs]

TYG: Huh, that’s interesting! [...] I never knew that.
Well, you know, with that war everybody was involved. Men, women, and children. Anyway, I went down and joined the Navy, and then it was a couple-three months before they called me up. So then went to Farragut, Idaho—that’s where I went to boot camp, Lake Pend Oreille. Graduated out of boot camp there, went down to Norfolk, Virginia, and went to torpedo school.

TYG: I’m presuming that’s for shooting torpedoes? Loading them?
You know, keeping them ready to tube shoot. Then I went up to New London, Connecticut—went to submarine school up there. Then they shipped us down to California. There were 52 of us that got on a little aircraft carrier down in San Francisco and went to Brisbane, Australia. Then we got on a train, and went straight across Australia on a train, to Fremantle. They put me in a relief crew, which was repairing the boats after they’d come back in off of patrol. Then when the USS Rasher [submarine] came back in, I got on that. We went into the South China Sea and sunk some ships. The boat was getting ready to have some repairs, and get rebuilt, so we came back to Mare Island, California and got off at Hunters Point; we got a major overhaul there. They rebuilt our conning tower, and fixed her engines.

TYG: Submarine?
Yes. Submarines operated out of Brisbane, Australia, and Fremantle, Australia. When we got our overhaul, we left San Francisco December 20th, 1944. We went back out, went to Honolulu a couple of times, and Pearl Harbor a couple of times. We stopped to get stores, and new torpedoes, and whatnot.

TYG-EA: What was it like seeing Pearl Harbor after 1941?
Well, there were some ships sunk there, but they didn’t bother the submarine base at all—they never did. Anyway, we went out to Pearl Harbor, then Midway Island and did our trial runs, and got ready to go back out. Went out and did a patrol out there in the East China Sea, which was a pretty miserable place. Then we came back into Guam, it was. They got one of our tenders out there. Anyway, after they’d secure an island, they’d move one of our tenders up, so we didn’t have to run so far.

TYG-EA: What does a tender carry for you?
Bert: Everything it takes to keep a submarine running. Machine shops, and fuel, and stores.

TYG-EA: Is that a surface ship, a tender?
Oh yes. Pretty good-size boats they are. They had several of them out there. I was mostly involved there in Fremantle, on the Orion, a big tender there. There were two or three of them at all times. Then when they got to securing the islands north, then we started moving up. Then the latter part of the war, we did life-guard duty, mostly. You know, up off of Japan. We never picked anybody up. We saw the planes going over and coming back, you know, on bombing runs.

TYG: So your job was to pick up American pilots?
Yes. Submarines sank so many of their ships that they weren’t sending any boats out. They built the Shinano, I don’t know if you’ve heard of that—big [aircraft carrier] ship. Anyway, the Japanese built it, hadn’t even gotten it ready to go, and the USS Archer-Fish sank it! [chuckles]

TYG: Still in port?
No, maybe just coming out, I don’t remember. Anyway, we had, on our fifth patrol, we sank more tonnage than any other boat in the Pacific. But when they sank the Shinano, it was 59,000 tons, and it was bigger than all the ships we’d sunk! [laughs]

TYG-EA: What’s the mood like on a submarine in war time? How do people feel in that environment?
Oh... you had to be somewhere, I guess. I stood lots of look-outs, you know. In those days, the submarines ran mostly on the surface anyways.

TYG: Before the good batteries...
No, you just ran out of air after you were down about 18 hours. Why, you just couldn’t even light a cigarette! Anyway, during the war, my folks bought a place down here in Yachats, and when I got out of the Navy, my 21st birthday was down here. I got out of the Navy before I was 21. Lots of young people in the town in those days, much younger.

TYG: That’s sort of coming back now!
Bert: Yes... lots of work in the woods, too. Young guys getting out of the service, and lots of work down here in the woods. After the first year, you got so you knew everybody around—somebody drove down the highway, you’d step out to see who it was and wave at them. I worked in the woods down there for several years, cutting ties—railroad ties. That was some of the nicest timber you’d ever seen.

TYG: Oh! I didn’t know you were in logging industry—I have a question for you! Recently, on the beach, there’s been this wood coming up like blood red.
Not redwood?

TYG-EA: No... It almost looked like it had a kind of “birch-y” bark.
TYG: It had this beautiful sort of greyish-green bark, with this beautiful, red inside. Beautiful contrast.
Now alder turns red... You take the bark off of an alder, and it’ll turn red.

TYG: Okay... Well, it’s beautiful wood. I’d love to make some stuff out of that, it’s stunning wood.
It’s the only one I can think of that we’ve got around here. Well, years ago, my father-in-law—they made a living picking up stuff off the beach.

TYG-EA: What brought your parents up here?
Well, during the war they lived in Portland. They were wanting to get out of there, so they came down here and drove down the coast. They went clear down to Coos Bay, I believe, looking for a place, and then they came back up here. Those strips of land where they lived—you know, Sea Aire and all of those—they were one hundred-foot strips, from the highway clear back to a section line somewhere, sixteen hundred to seventeen hundred feet long. And they were a hundred feet wide, and they ran from the highway to the ocean. Those were selling for $900.

TYG-EA: I’ll take two!
Bert: I know, I should have bought ten! [laughs] It didn’t take long before they got to twelve hundred, and then two thousand. You know, things escalated. The trouble is, our planning, nowadays, is that you have to have a fifty-foot street. So what do you do with a hundred-foot piece of land? Your lots have to be eighty-five-foot deep. So a hundred-foot strip of land is just not the way they plan it nowadays. Because you can’t put up a street between them. So they eventually got cut off. People own them in the back end now. In fact, our cemetery from the highway to the back line is fourteen acres. We’ve used up almost all of the lower part though. We may have to go up there on the top part. Which may be hard to get—we have to get enough money to do it.

TYG: You could probably make a good bit of money by selling the wood, though.
Well, it’s spruce. There’s quite a bit up there, but I don’t know if there’s enough to... Like the last time we took some trees off of there, why by the time we got them all down and ready to go, the price dropped. But that’s way up on the hill though, 600, 700 feet.

TYG-EA: Don’t know if you want to bury people on land that steep!
It’s not steep up on top!

TYG: There’s sort of a big plateau area.
Yeah, we might have four to five acres up on top—three or four, anyway, that we could use. Anyway, I finally got tired of working in the woods. The last job I had was up on top of Cape Perpetua, where the wind blew all that stuff down there in 1960—1952 is when it blew it down. December 2, 1952 is when it tore this country up blowing trees down, you know, big trees. Of course then the next big storm was in ‘62, which took a lot more down.

TYG: The next one was in ‘72?
No, no... we haven’t had one since then like it. You know, all the storms that we have, they try to compare with the one in 1962, because it was a big one, also in the Valley. Fact, it was even blowing over in eastern Oregon. Anyway, I got tired of working in the woods, and I went to work driving a Cat, a loader—heavy equipment. Worked for Fodge and Collins—they were a construction operator. In 1956, I moved a Cat and a scraper on a project over there at the paper mill. We were supposed to have about a month of excavation to do over there, and ended up over there a year and a half! [laughs]

TYG: Just very different soil composition than you expected, or...?
Well yeah, that was the biggest part of it. They dredged the material out of the river. They had a dike along the river, and they went across, and the road was over here. They pumped all of this stuff over into it—it was a cat-tail swamp, is all it was. That heavy sand shoved the silt all into a pocket. So when you got into one of those pockets, you were stuck! Anyway, worked there, and then we built a lot of streets in Toledo, then Newport. I had my own back-hoe and truck, and for a while I put in septic tanks and that kind of work. For about eight or nine years. Then my back was bothering me from the equipment and driving the truck, so I went to work for the county surveyor. Worked there until I retired. 

TYG: So when did you meet Elaine?
Oh, I worked in the woods with her dad some. He was a timber faller, but he was working up there. [pause] I don’t know—a long time ago. I think she was in grade school down here in Yachats.

TYG: I’m guessing this was the 50’s and 60’s? I find it amusing that then we had a grade school, and now we don’t.
Yeah, my brothers and sisters went to school down there. My younger brothers. My brother Jack, he got in the Army right after the war ended.

TYG: Vietnam, or World War II?
World War II, in ‘46. I got out in ‘46.

TYG: And he joined that same year?
Yes. When the war ended, we were down in the Gulf of Siam. If the war had lasted another seven days, we would have been done. We’d have gone to Perth, Australia, and had a good time. By the time we got back to the States, all the shouting and fun was over, you know. We went back into the Philippines and cleaned our boat up a little bit, and then headed back to the States. The tender Gilmore, and eighteen submarines left the Philippines there and headed for the States. Six boats in a line, and the tender out ahead of us. Everybody with their lights on. We’d never had lights on before, you know.

TYG-EA: I bet that was a great home-coming!
Oh yes. We came back through the Panama Canal and went up to New York City.

TYG: So what kind of boat was the Rasher? I mean, I know it was a submarine.
Well, it was a Gato-type submarine—it was what they called a fleet submarine, in those days. We had four 1,600 horse-power engines. But if you look it up on the internet, you can find out all about it.

TYG-EA: I wanted to ask what it was like raising a family here.
Well, Elaine already had two kids when [we] got married. It was... challenging. [chuckles] We had a lot of fun. Kristie graduated in ‘75, and Steve in ‘79, I guess it was. Kristie went to college at Lewis and Clark, but then she got sick after a while. Steve, he’s doing real well. He went to work for the city up there, just out of high school. He worked for the city for 13 years, then he worked for the Port of Portland. He worked at the airport, at PDX, for about a year, then he got a job as a maintenance man in Hillsboro at the Port of Portland. He retired there after about 35 years, and sat around for a while, and then they called him back to be an inspector on their construction jobs. So he’s doing that right now.

TYG-EA: What’s the most surprising, or what strikes you most about the changes in town over the years?
Well, it’s been kind of a steady change, everything getting more expensive real fast. It’s been doing it, seems like, just leaving me kind of behind. Seems like I could never get hold of the right stick that made the money, you know. I told my son a long time ago that, sooner or later, if it keeps on going like this, a family car is going to cost you a hundred thousand dollars. What in the world good is that? We bought a car when I was making three dollars an hour! You know, paid rent and all that stuff...

TYG-EA: Well you sure have a nice place here! How long have you been here?
In this spot? Seventeen years. We lived thirty in that one [just down the hill].

TYG: Anything else you’d like to talk about?
Well, I don’t necessarily like what’s going on in Yachats now, all those curbs and everything. They say they’ve made 44 new parking spaces, but I don’t know how you can do that when you take some away—where are they going to be? Down at the Park? Down on the streets there? [...] It’s a small town! And we don’t have the planning I suppose. In the early days it seemed to me like it was planned fairly well. They drew the plans for the town back in the 1800’s. There were a lot of towns here—towns that were never really made, but were drawn up in different places.

TYG: How interesting!. Well, thank you so much!
Rainspout  Music  Festival 
Acoustic Music Festival, April 28-30
Tickets have gone on sale for the  Rainspout  Music  Festival  at the Yachats Commons April 28-30.

Rainspout  2017 offers a diverse, eclectic collection of musical acts, workshops, dining, dancing, jam sessions, plus a children’s show, a sing-along, and a hootenanny.

Rainspout is sponsored by Polly Plumb Productions and The City of Yachats. The music festival is a musical celebration of spring evolving into summer.  Rainspout  offers something for everyone, introducing new and exciting musical experiences, alongside some good old-fashioned musical fun.

Friday night step out to a jazzed up night of music, dinner, and dancing. Savor a fabulous meal prepared by The Drift Inn Café, while enjoying the The Barbara Dzuro Jazz Quartet and The Biondi-Russel Band,  featuring a tribute to Etta James starring Joanne Broh on vocals. Jazz, swing and blues, bring your appetite and dancing shoes!

Saturday’s daytime line-up includes performances,  workshops, a sing-along, and all-day jam session. Saturday daytime presenters and  performers are: Mike & Carleen McCornack, The New Folksters, Terry Trenholm, Barb Turrill and Morgan Spiess.

Saturday night showcases the indescribably entrancing sounds of Betty and The Boy, and the charming finesse of The East West International Project. Sunday features a morning jam session, a workshop and a performance and hoedown with the Fiddlin Big Sue Band.

Beer, wine, food, beverages, and a variety of refreshments will be available during the festival.

Tickets are available at

Visit or Rainspout Music Festival on Facebook for more information.
email:, tel: 541-968-6089

Polly Plumb Productions (PPP) is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization that supports and promotes music and dance performances and art exhibitions in the Yachats area.  PPP programs include the Yachats Celtic Music Festival ( and the Yachats Pride Celebration June 3-4, 2017, featuring Chris Williamson in concert. Tickets now on sale at More info at

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Yachats Gazette, Issue 66, March 1 2017

Interview with Bob Barrett

We conclude our interview with Bob Barrett, Pastor for the Yachats Presbyterian Church. This is Part 3.

TYG-GD: So, can we briefly get how you came to Yachats?
Oh, yes! I graduated from seminary—I think it was in 2012. I spent a number of years working as a hospital chaplain at Wesley Medical Center in Wichita. Worked a lot as a trauma chaplain. I really loved it, felt called and gifted for it.

TYG: It must have been nice to let a lot of people feel happy in those scary moments.
Well, I wouldn’t use the word happy, but I know what you mean. Just a calming presence, a safe space—and again, it was mostly just listening. They don’t remember what you said, just that you were there, that they had someone to lean on. I thought that was going to be my calling. But there’s this cumulative, almost post-traumatic stress, and I got to the point where I just realized that I didn’t want to spend another day listening to somebody [tell me] that their three-year-old drowned in a pond while they were at work and the babysitter wasn’t watching, or that their son had an accident at two o’clock in the morning and was dead—I couldn’t do that day after day after day.

TYG-GD: That’s a lot of pain.
And I also really love the more personal, being in a relationship, building unity. So I decided to look for a congregation. And in the Presbyterian church—you know, in the Catholic church you serve wherever the Bishop sends you—but in the Presbyterian church the church puts an ad in the paper, in essence, and you send out your résumé. It’s kind of like a, where you list your gifts for ministry, the church lists what they’re looking for, you plug them into the computer and try to find a match. Well, they weren’t finding a lot of matches for me. I felt gifted in areas of social justice, and there aren’t a lot of churches looking for pastors, who, you know...

TYG: Except around here.
Well... Maybe. But even here, they didn’t match us up. I wasn’t getting a lot of hits. And the churches that were calling me—I don’t know how they matched us, because they were pretty fundamental-conservative. But just on a whim, I said “Gosh, I don’t know a lot about Oregon, and I’ve never been west.” So I just started looking at churches that were available in Oregon. And I found this church. It was right on the ocean, and I love the ocean. So I googled the community, and thought that it looked like a great community. So I joked to people in my office at the hospital, and I said, “I’ve found my new church!” And they were like, “Yeah, right.” [laughter] And I said, “No, this is going to be my new church!” and they looked at me and said, “You... and a hundred other people!” [laughter] I don’t know how many other people might have applied, but that day I sent out my résumé, and that night we went out to celebrate: my daughter had just been accepted into nursing school. We were at a restaurant in Wichita, and we got talking with the waiter, and my son said something about being from the coast. And the waiter said, “Oh yeah, me too! Where are you from?” And Zach told him we were from Connecticut. And he says, “Oh, I’m from the other coast—I’m from Oregon.” And I said, “No kidding! I just sent out a résumé for a job in Oregon.” And he said, “Where?” And I said, “Ya-chits?” [laughter] And he said, “No, actually it’s pronounced Yachats, and that’s where I’m from!”

TYG-GD: [open-mouthed pause] No way!
TYG: What a ridiculous series of coincidences!
I think his name was Ryan. All I had was his first name; he wrote it on the back of his business card. He said his grand-parents were actually from Yachats, but he summered here with them. He told me about all the places I had to check out, Cape Perpetua and Devil’s Churn, the sea lion caves...

TYG: I bet you were hooked!
I had never heard of Yachats in my entire life, and the day I apply... it was just too weird. I think the next day I got a call from Nan Scott, and said that they would love to talk to me. So we set up a Skype interview. I agonized over how to present myself. The presbytery that I was in in Kansas was a very conservative presbytery. And I really struggled with how I [should] present myself, having a much more progressive, liberal understanding of scripture.

This is convoluted, but it’s an important part of the story, so I’m going to share it: While I was in Kansas, before I was ordained, you have go through this process where you meet with what’s called a Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and they decide whether or not you meet the qualifications. They give you permission to be ordained. And they were making me jump through some hoops that other people didn’t have to jump through because I didn’t grow up Presbyterian, and because of my more liberal, progressive leanings. So while all of that’s going on, and I’m really struggling, and friends-people-colleagues-mentors-peers saying “Just tell them what they want to hear, get ordained, and then you can be whatever you want!” It’s a lot harder to kick you out when you’re in the club. And for my own personal integrity, I need to be authentic. So I decided to be who I am—either they would ordain me or they wouldn’t. I could always find another presbytery, and if this denomination didn’t want me, I could go to a more liberal denomination.

But while all that was going on, one of my Elders came to me and said, “Bob, what do you know about the More Light movement in the Presbyterian church?” It was—the movement still exists, but its focus is different now—it was the movement in the Presbyterian church to raise awareness, and to lobby and activate for gay ordination and same-sex marriage. We just recently came to that: in 2011 we allowed gay ordination, and in 2015 we allowed same- sex marriage. So she came to me and said, “What do you know about it, and what would we have to do to become a More Light congregation?” I said I didn’t know, but I would look into it. She told me that her reasoning for that was that she had a son who was gay, who really felt ostracized and out of place, and didn’t feel a welcome place in the church. He was older now—he was living in California, open, and had actually married in California. So I found out what we would need to do, and essentially, it was just say that you’re an open and affirming church, and pay us one hundred dollars a year in dues. [laughter] They needed to collect money and further their work. But it was a big step to make in a conservative Kansas, right on the buckle of the Bible Belt, three miles from the Oklahoma border.

So I spent a year with my church session studying the topic, and looked at both sides, for and against. We read quite a bit of stuff on the topic, had somebody come in and speak to us, and after a year of studying with the session, the session said “Yes, we want to do this.” I said that we also should have a congregational meeting to discuss it. The session can act on its own, but I wanted complete buy-in. So we had the meeting. I knew there were some more conservative members of the congregation, and I worried about losing some of them. One of the more conservative folks said, “Pastor, I disagree with you on this. I don’t think it’s biblical. I think homosexuality is sin—but lots of things are sin. As a church, we pick and choose which sin is worse, and I don’t want to do that here. I still think everybody is welcome here. This isn’t enough to make me lose the church—it’s a pretty big tent, and I realized there are different ways to understand. But I want you to know I don’t agree with you.” And I said, “Thank you so much!” And he would still, even after we took the vote, he would say, “Here’s fifty bucks, take the group out for pizza.” He was a great guy. So I knew where I stood with him. But he was the only person that voiced any opposition to it.

The other couple that I knew was pretty conservative, I was worried about losing them. They didn’t say a word. And at the end of the congregational meeting, I said “Gosh, I think we just lost them.” And she came up to me after the meeting and said, “Pastor, I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out loud, but I think that what you’re doing is a good thing.” I said, “What?!” She said, “My grand-daughter came to me just about a year ago, and said she needed to tell me something.” And she’s an older woman, like eighty. She asked what, and her grand-daughter told her she was gay. And she said, “Well honey, why didn’t you ever tell me?” and she said “Well, I was afraid you wouldn’t love me anymore.” And she got all teared up, and said, “I don’t ever want another child to think that their grand-mother won’t love them because of who they are.” I just started crying. So, the session voted unanimously to become a More Light congregation. That wasn’t enough—they said, “We want you to read a statement on the floor of the floor of Presbytery about why we made the decision.” I hadn’t been ordained yet, and I’m just shaking like a leaf, and I read this statement—to silence. And I thought, “Oh great. I just ruined any chance I had to be ordained.” [laughter] But, I stayed true to myself, and eventually I got ordained.

So, where were we going? How did I get here?

TYG-GD: Yes! You had Nan Scott, you had a Skype interview...
Right! So I was agonizing over [how to present myself]—I studied a little bit, looked over the demographics of Yachats, tried to decipher what their meaning might be. I knew it would be more liberal than Kansas, for sure, but still didn’t know who on the session, who on the committee might have more conservative [ideas.] But I told myself that I wasn’t going to start being somebody different now. I didn’t know whether to put on a tie, all this stupid stuff. But then I decided I was just going to be me, so I came to the interview maybe like I am now, blue button-down, no tie, very informal. So Nan called me back, and she said “They loved you, and we want to fly you out for another interview.” So they flew me out, I preached down in Reedsport—just the call committee comes and listens. The call committee makes recommendations to the session. I met with them, and they really liked me, and I just haven’t really ever compromised myself.

TYG: That’s a great way of doing it!
Yeah! And when they wanted to announce that I was their pick, they wanted a picture to put in the newsletter. And I looked and looked, and finally said, “This picture is me!” It was a picture with a big, red nose, and my hair was just [gesticulates to indicate all over], and that’s the picture I sent for the newsletter. [laughter]

TYG: Did they like it?
I guess! They called me! [laughter]

TYG-GD: And no regrets since then?
No. No, no, no. I love the congregation.

TYG: Just one last question to wrap it up—do you think you’ll be changing denominations again in the future?
Bob: [big laughter]

TYG: Thank you so much for your time!
Bob: [high fives the Publisher]
Hey, thank you!

Interview with Creighton Horton

This is the second part of our interview with the author of A Reluctant Prosecutor.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: I have a question. The title of your book is kind of intriguing: A Reluctant Prosecutor. It sort of implies that that’s an exceptional state of mind among prosecutors. What do you typically see as the state of mind of a prosecutor? Certitude, bluff and bravado, righteousness, businesslike?
Well, you have quite a cross-section of different people. Not too many, though some of them, have been on the defense side before, and then they become prosecutors. I found this sort of helpful in terms of a balance. You can see both sides, and you may be more likely to look at a case critically. If you’ve just been on the prosecution side, and that’s all you’ve ever wanted to do, if your main goal has been to put people away, you may be less inclined to be focusing in on “Let’s be careful that we don’t accidentally prosecute the wrong person.” So I think that the idea of a reluctant prosecutor plays on a lot of different levels. One of the Amazon reviews on the book said, “Well, it’s called A Reluctant Prosecutor, but it’s really just the first chapter, where he talks about being a defense attorney then he switched to prosecution. From that point on it’s all about the stories from his cases.” I think they missed a lot of different parts of that reluctance. Reluctant to file a case where I wasn’t convinced that somebody was guilty, and the police wanted me to, or even my boss wanted me to; reluctant to sort of be gung-ho on the death penalty, and eventually pull back on it entirely; reluctant [as in], I was never one that went out and tried to get a big case—I was often reluctant enough that I tried not to get the big case! [chuckles] And then I’d get it, and it was, you know, in the press all the time. If I’d wanted to be in the press I would have tried to get those cases, but I wasn’t one that was eager to get my name out there. I wasn’t using this as a stepping-stone to politics, should I be elected as prosecutor, or anything else. At the public service level I was at, I was feeling comfortable. I wasn’t bucking for the judge, or anything. So I think I was reluctant in those areas more than some prosecutors were. That title came to me almost immediately when I first started writing the book. I was originally going to call it “Memoirs Of A Reluctant Prosecutor,” and somebody pointed out that memoirs are usually kind of dry and not very interesting—it’s a bunch of details that nobody except [the author] cares very much about. [laugh] So I thought, “Well, maybe I won’t use the term ‘memoirs’.”

TYG-EA: You saw that other sort of mind-set that you described?
If your main focus is sort of law-and-order, and aligning with the cops so directly—and this was a tricky thing! [There have been] a lot of cops that I was very close to and which I really liked. Some of them I didn’t get along with, but you know, that happens in every profession, and to everybody. But even with people I got along with well, I couldn’t allow that to become a substitute for being careful about filing a case they brought to me. If ever I had a cop come in to me and say, “I need a favor,” [laugh] that was a red flag that they were going to say, “Look, this case is a little weak, but if you file it we’ll go out and get the rest of the evidence we need.” And that was a pitch we got a lot! “Oh, we’ll keep investigating, and before you go to trial there will be more evidence.” Sometimes it was hard to tell them, “No, you need to go do more investigation—I’m not comfortable with the evidence, and no, I can’t do this on the basis that we’re friends, and I’m doing you a favor.”

TYG: Just to understand the motivations of a prosecutor—how do prosecutors get paid, usually?
Well, they’re government employees, so they get paid a fixed salary at whatever level it is.

TYG: Oh, okay.
One thing to understand about prosecutors is that they get paid way less than you could get if you were in private practice and you were a defense attorney. Some of the defense attorneys we were going against, they were making many, many, many, many times more than we were making, even the investigators! I had a case where it was a capital murder case, the investigator who was hired to assist the defense attorney, who just sat through the trial and did nothing, was being paid more than I was to prosecute the case. So there was this huge discrepancy between what you could make as a private lawyer defending criminal defendants, and what you could make as a prosecutor. Similarly, if you were a legal defender, you wouldn’t make a lot of money either. But anybody who left either prosecution or the public defender’s office, and decided to go and just represent private clients, could make a lot of money.

TYG: I was wondering, for example, whether you just got a bonus per case or something.
Oh no, no, it was nothing like that. You might be able to get a raise, and if you were seen as doing a particularly good job you might get some bonus at the end of the year. They had things like “Lawyer of the Year” awards. You’d get a small amount of money and some plaque or something. It wasn’t like if you wanted to supplement your income, you could put in extra effort on a case in order to get a win.

TYG: Yeah, that’s what I was wondering about.
No, no... You’re focused in on trying to make sure that you do a good job and that somebody who’s committed a crime was going to get convicted. But again, I think that if you do that, and that’s your daily activity, it becomes your mind-set, such that you may not be as quick to be concerned about whether somebody’s getting caught up in the system that shouldn’t be, that maybe there’s an innocent person being prosecuted. And I did see cases where the prosecutor would file on the fairly low standard probable cause, and afterwards information would come to light which might have made him hesitate to file to begin with, but because they were already in the process, there had already been a defense attorney appointed, they were already sort of in the adversarial role of prosecutor versus defense attorney, there’s the natural inclination not to let the defense attorney win, you know, because you’re used to going to battle with them—they probably should have pulled back, looked at the new evidence, and said “I don’t think this case is as strong as I thought it was; we should dismiss it.”

TYG: What would you do if, essentially, you were brought a case of a crime where you were made to understand what it was, but had never actually been tried before, and isn’t actually in the law?
Well, there has to be a law. There has to be a criminal statute before you can bring a charge. When you charge somebody, you cite the code level, like the Utah criminal code section such-and-such. In violation of that, the person is charged with breaking and entering, or sexual assault, or murder, or whatever the crime was. But you have to lay out, in the charging document, where it is in the code that that’s a crime and what the elements of that crime are: On such-and-such a date, the defendant intentionally or knowingly caused the death of so-and-so, or whatever the crime is. So you can’t just decide that somebody’s done something bad and charge them just for doing that.

TYG: How did you end up in Yachats?
In 1988, I had just transferred from the DA’s office to the Attorney General’s office. My wife and I decided to elope, and we were looking for states where there was a short period of time between when you could get a license, and when you could get married. She found that Oregon just had a three-day waiting period. We could come into the state, stop at the first county, get the license, and then within a few days we could get married. We both liked the ocean, and we both liked lighthouses, and so we decided we would elope to a lighthouse. So that’s what we did in 1988: we went to the Cape Blanco lighthouse down near Port Orford. A couple of years later, we came back for an anniversary trip and decided we would just wend our way up the coast. About the time we were hitting Yachats, it was getting to be late in the day, and my wife was saying that we probably ought to find a place to stay for the night, and noticed the Fireside Motel. We liked that it was quite a ways off the road, right out on the ocean, and so we stayed there that night. And through the years, maybe every two or three years we would come back, because Oregon was still one of our favorite places, and Yachats was our favorite place on the Oregon coast. Initially we’d stay one or two nights at the Fireside, then we’d stay other places up and down the coast. And then the next time we came we’d stay three nights at the Fireside. And then four nights. [laugh] It was always our favorite place, and Yachats was our favorite place, and we just kept on getting drawn into it. Then eventually, after I retired and we were looking for places to live, this was one that really appealed to us. So we started to see if we could find something here. But we were also looking inland, to see if we could find someplace that would meet all our criteria, say Corvallis, where our daughter was going to college. We were just really lucky: just about when we were about to give up and rent a place inland, this house came available right at that moment, and just had that “meant-to-be” feel about it. I get kidded by my friends and my brother that I should be on the payroll for the Chamber of Yachats, telling people how wonderful it is, but I just genuinely love it here, and I love having people come and visit me here.

TYG: What kind of music do you actually do?
Well, right now, I’ve hooked up with Dave Cowden, another life-long musician who is from Kansas City, and he and his wife moved to this area about three months before we did. We met at an open mic—the first time I went to an open mic here.

TYG: Open mics are fun.
Oh yeah. They’ve always been a highlight, even if we’re not playing. But that’s where I met Dave. So now we play classic, popular music going back from the 50’s on, so like Everly Brothers, the Beatles, the 60’s, the 70’s, some into the 80’s. And because of my daughter saying, “Well, you know, you should really do something from this century, Dad!” [chuckles] we do a couple of songs that are only a few years old. But most of what we do is kind of vintage stuff people remember, that they grew up with. So we just do the Beatles, Jim Croce, James Taylor... and then I do a lot of Celtic stuff, because I really like that. There’s a guy named Dougie MacLean—he’s kind of the James Taylor of Scotland...

TYG: I don’t know James Taylor, so...
Creight: [Turning to the Editorial Assistant, laughing]
What kind of Dad are you? You haven’t introduced this kid... I mean, you even have the same last name! He doesn’t know who James Taylor is?

TYG-EA: He doesn’t know a lot of things... but... what do you like? The Beatles, the Who, that kind of thing...
TYG: Yes!
Oh, I was a huge fan of the Beatles! The Beatles are the reason I got into playing music at all. You know, when I was younger, they gave me piano lessons, and I hated it. I’d just look at the music on the page...

TYG: I play piano, and I quite like it!
Good! Well, I play piano now, and I love it! But I went back and learned it after, not because of what I’d learned as a young kid. When the Beatles hit, I was just completely captured, and I wanted to be part of that. So I got a guitar, and learned how to play chords, and my buddy down the street and I would pick out the melodies and play the chords. But anyway, pretty much all my life I’ve done different kinds of music. I’ve played a bunch of different instruments: banjo in a ragtime group, mandolin, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica... I’ve just always loved music. For me, to move to the musical capital of Oregon! When you think about how many places you can go here and get live music, in a place with 700 residents—it’s pretty amazing! LunaSea, the Farm Store sometimes...

TYG: LunaSea has live music?
Sure! This is something that just started, because when we came to town, my daughter Eyrie got a job at the LunaSea as one of the servers. She went to the owner, Robert Anthony...

TYG: He’s our neighbor. I mean, literally. Right across the court.
That’s so cool, because when we were still looking for a place to live, Robert, and his friend Jeremy, were trying to help us. And we were like, “Gee, they don’t even know us, and they’re trying to help us, and they’re so friendly!” and in fact, after we found this house and we went down to eat at the Luna, my daughter looked out the window and said “Hey, you can see the house from the window!” And at that point, Jeremy, one of the waiters down there, was on the phone with somebody, and we could hear him saying “Yeah, Creight and Eyrie and Jo, they’re back, yeah, they’re back!” and we thought, “What’s he doing? Who’s he talking to?” and he walked over and he handed the phone over to Eyrie, and said “It’s Robert! He’s out in his boat and he wants to talk to you.” She takes the phone, and he offers her a job, on the spot. So anyway, she ends up becoming a server there, then she tells him, “You know, the Fourth of July is rolling around,” —this was 2014—she says, “I bet if you built a stage down here, my Dad and his buddy would come play music. [laugh] And so he did, and on the Fourth of July that was the first time we ever played, and after that it was like, “Well hey, there’s a stage here!” So we started to play every weekend, pretty much, during the summer season. So that’s been a ton of fun, and also playing at the Drift has been fun. We do both, and to me, it’s just so much fun. You know, when I was a kid, I kind of fantasized being in a rock group... and now, with Dave, who is a terrific musician—he was a member of a group back in Kansas City when he was in high school that was quite well known, and he had been in professional groups for years and years. So when I went to the first open mic and he was there, that was a great opportunity for us to get together. And he’d just come to town too. Initially I wasn’t sure if we were into the same type of music, wasn’t sure we were going to gel, but it’s been a hoot. So I got to give up my law license when I left, which I did real quickly; come out to Yachats, my favorite place in the world; and start playing music—I’ve just been really, really thankful.

TYG-EA: You win!
And the other thing that’s so wonderful about it is that because Yachats is such a great place... We didn’t know anybody when we moved here, but we immediately made a lot of friends. Part of it was through that group at open mic—that was kind of our first entrée into the community. But a lot of people come visit, because who doesn’t want to come [here]? And, our daughters come back in the summertime from college, because they love being here, and they can be down at the Luna, plus my older daughter, who’s in New Hampshire right now, is a really good little Celtic fiddler, and she and I have played down at times at the Luna as well, and she’s probably going to come back next summer and play with me, so I’ll get to have both my daughters here with me in the summer, get to have great fun playing music. Plus, we get to play at the Drift, which I always saw when we’d come through here we’d see people up on the stage, and we’d say “Yeah, maybe if we move here, I could play there.” But I was never really thinking that could happen, because I was never a solo performer, and I hadn’t thought that I could hook up with somebody else. When I came here, I hadn’t done any singing in the group I was with in Utah, because they already had several singers when I joined the group, and I hadn’t really thought of doing it anyway. But when I came here and went to the first open mic, it was like, “Well, I guess I’m going to have to sing.” And now, Dave and I sing all the time.

TYG: Well thank you so much for your time!
Hey, you’re welcome Allen! You’re very welcome.


Event Dates:      March 10-12     
Photo: Art Quilt by  Christine Holden, titled  Ocean Gems- Kelp Greenling Pair

The Ocean Artistry Art Quilt Show and Sale is shaping up to be an incredible array of world class art, sure to please everyone. More than 100 Art Quilts from five countries  will be hanging in the Yachats Commons,  as entries from the juried show  ‘Gems of the Ocean’, go on display March 10 – 12.  The show is open  10:00 AM – 5:00 P.M. Friday  through  Sunday.  Daily admission is a $5.00 donation. 

Sponsored   by Polly Plumb Productions and the City of Yachats, Oregon,  the  show  received  financial support  from the Siletz Tribal Charitable Contribution Fund and the City of Yachats’ New Event Fund.

“Entries for the show  exceeded  my  expectations  in  both  quantity and quality” said Polly Plumb Board member Ruth Bass.  “We have an international exhibit of art quilts coming to Yachats, with many  pieces  worthy  of any museum  collection.  One of the goals of the show is to introduce art quilting to local residents as well as visitors  to the area.  Art quilts do not typically follow the patterns used in traditional quilting.  Instead,  artists  use fabric and other materials to build conceptual creations based on a theme, design or simply the artist’s imagination.”  Bass added.

According to the Art Quilt Association club definition    “An art quilt is an original exploration of a concept or idea rather than the handing down of a ‘pattern’.  It experiments with textile manipulation, color, texture and/or a diversity of mixed media. An Art Quilt often pushes quilt world boundaries .  An Art Quilt should  consist  predominately of fiber or a fiber-like material with one or multiple layers which  are held together with stitches or piercing of the layers.”
Grand prize award  for the show is  $1000, with a second place award  of $500, and a third place award  of $250, Winners will be  chosen by a panel of dignitaries prior to the show’s opening.   A  Viewer’s  Choice  Award  of $250. will  be  decided by show attendees.  Art patrons and collectors note,   a large majority  of the pieces on display will be available for purchase.  Credit cards accepted.

Polly Plumb Productions (PPP) is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization that supports and promotes music and dance performances and art exhibitions in the Yachats area. Other PPP programs include the annual Rainspout Music Festival ( )  and the popular annual Yachats Celtic Music Festival (