Jamie & Jesse Jager of Wrackline
Jamie & Jesse Jager of Wrackline
|Wrackline Curiosity Shop, Yachats, OR|
TYG: How did you come to Yachats?
Jamie: Oh man! So, we grew up in Philomath. Both of us actually went to school together, but we weren’t really friends or anything. I was one year above him. So I graduated, left; he was in Philomath still. We eventually got together, about five years ago now, we just lived 30 miles from each other at this point. We started dating and everything... what I’m leading to, is we decided one day to go on a cross-country, hitch-hiking kind of road trip to try and figure out “Where could we see ourselves for a good chunk of our lives? Where would we want to place down some roots?”
TYG: That’s always an important decision.
Jamie: [laughs] Yes! So we went all around the country. We went the south route down through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas...
TYG: We did that!
Jamie: Yeah! We did that, then moved back up the East Coast, and then back around to Oregon. There were places we fell in love with, but wouldn’t you know it, the whole time, we got back to Oregon and we were like, “So... Yachats?” [laughter] Right where we started. We started at the south end of town and just stuck our thumbs out, and we came back, and we’re like... let’s move here! [laughter] So we started looking for properties and stuff–we didn’t really know what we were doing; we just wanted to be here. And we found a house–a cheap, little, cute house–just right up the road. And so we’re there, and we were kind of trying to figure out a business opportunity, you know, what can we do? There aren’t a lot of jobs around here. What can help us survive? And we both were struggling with wanting to feel more part of the community. [We wanted to] get to meet and really know the people around here. And help out! And spur on new ideas, and get people excited about other things, and connect with these people. That’s why we love Yachats! So that’s what I think we’re kind of doing here. That’s how we landed in Yachats.
TYG: I certainly think this shop is amazing. I love the 50s feel of it.
TYG: I’m guessing you were going for 50s?
Jamie: Well, not necessarily a certain decade, but an old era, but timeless at the same time–just a little bit of everything. [laughs] Organized chaos. Curiosities. We like to call it a curiosity shop. It just sparks interest, creativity in here.
TYG: So what got you the idea for this shop?
Jesse: Well, I think her! We lived in Bend right after our cross-country trip–we got a job there and created a house.
Jamie: It was quick–less than a year.
Jesse: And we created a feel within the house.
Jamie: And that was the first time that we really discovered this way of decorating, and realizing what we can do with older things that we find. We both love collecting older stuff–in a way, we like to save it from getting thrown away, because you’re never going to find anything of this quality, or sometimes of this character anymore. So we both–just separately, even before we got together–we both kind of naturally did that in our own lives. And when we moved to Bend, that was the first time we really lived together, and we both quickly realized, “Dude, with our minds together, we come up with some really funky ways of decorating.” And we’d put up a picture on Facebook or something, and people would be like, “How did you even think of doing that? That’s amazing!” So that’s kind of what happened here.
Jesse: And we both like the era, or vintage, basically.
TYG: And of course everything here has a character, a story behind it, just as the nature of being old things.
Jamie: Exactly. And sometimes you know it, and sometimes you don’t... The other day, we were making up stories for certain things, like a bowling pin. We had this huge, extravagant story that never happened.
Jesse: Because it’s burned. So we were wondering, how was it burned? [laughter] But to tie it back in to why we did this shop: stories and people. We love the story behind items. The significance of an item isn’t always seen right away. You have to get to know who owned it, or where it came from–all those things. I think the reason behind all this is because we love people. We love connecting to people and learning from people, and being creative with people. And [...] we talk so many people who have stores like this, and we’re just blown away by their passion, and their creativity, and their stories.
Jamie: Their stories! It always seems to go back to that every time. And it becomes almost like an addiction: “I want to meet new people! I want to go out and find something I’ve never seen before.” It gets in your blood!
Jesse: A new mystery! Even if you don’t have all the information on a new item, you can research it. You know there’s a story behind it.
TYG: That’s part of the charm–just knowing that something has a story, even if you don’t know what it is.
Jamie: The mystery of it, yes. Another aspect of this shop that was a personal thing for me was, growing up as a kid, I was a really weird kid. [laughs] I used to collect weird stuff and hide it in my room so they wouldn’t find it, because I found it so fascinating. Like–I hesitate saying this because it was so illegal, but it was innocent! It was complete innocence at this point. I was probably eight or so, and we came down here and there was a beached whale. At this point in my life I know to not touch it! But as an eight-year old, I was fascinated. So I ran up to it, and I plucked a barnacle off of it, and it came with a piece of blubber, and I hid it in my bag and I went home. Three weeks later, the whole house smelled like rotting, dead body. [laughter] And my parents are like, “What on Earth is in here?” I went to school, and my Mom combed my whole room and she found a ziplock bag that had a dead barnacle and whale skin in it, just rotting. And it was putrid, just terrible! But that was the first thing. [laughs] And ever since then, I just love going out and finding things. Obviously, I know the rules now! Curiosity shops played a big role in my life, like the one in Seattle, “The Old Curiosity Shop.” It just mystified me.
Jesse: So with all that, I got to know Jamie...
Jamie: You just fanned it!
Jesse: Yes–I wanted to give her a chance to blossom in all those areas. So I did that, but then I got into it.
Jamie: He started exploding as well, in creativity.
Jesse: I’m passionate about the picking and the people, and I just want to keep going. Hopefully, I want to keep inspiring and just connecting. I think connecting is the main thing.
Jamie: Especially these days. I feel like you don’t have a lot of connections anymore.
TYG: You’d expect more, with Facebook and that sort of thing. I don’t know why, but you feel a sort of distance.
Jamie: Right? We’re more connected than we’ve ever been, but I feel, at times, that I’m more alone. [To a customer] It’s a porcupine quill!
TYG: That’s amazingly long!
Jamie: Isn’t it, though? They’re super-sharp.
TYG: Okay, I had no idea they could grow that big.
Jamie: They get bigger! Those are small ones.
TYG: What? How far down do they go into the skin?
Jamie: I’m not 100% sure, but I don’t think super-far.
TYG: It must have to do with the white [part].
Jamie: They’re all different colors, kind of mottled. They’re cool. They’re not a local species, though.
Jesse: And they have little barbs on them.
Jamie: Yes! Just like stingray barbs. I used to train stingrays.
Jesse: She was a marine biologist in Newport.
Jamie: I actually went to the marine science program down here in Newport, through Hatfield. I jumped all over the country and worked in all these really neat places. I met Jesse, and that’s when we decided to come back here.
TYG: So cool! So, how do you get in contact [with people] and get these items? Or do people come to you?
Jamie: People come to us, or a lot of the time, we’ll just travel. We love traveling around; we love going to little general stores. A lot of the time what happens is [that] we’ll go to a little town. One town that jumps out in my mind that we went to last year is called “Looking Glass.” I’m not really good at directions, but it’s kind of out past Eugene, more southern Oregon. Looking Glass, Oregon–they have the oldest general store in the state. I think it’s the original business in the state–I might be mistaken.
TYG: So it’s actually passed down, family to family?
Jamie: Yes! And it’s still there, and it’s the most gorgeous building. It’s just incredible–it’s so neat. Someone put so much time and energy into that–it’s not a quick build, like we do now. I love it. So, we went to Looking Glass, and it’s places like that that we go to check out. And you’ll go into a little general store, and you’ll talk to someone, and they’ll be like, “Oh, I know someone down the road that has stuff that you might like–I know they’re getting rid of things. And so you just meet people that way.
TYG: Garage sales are gold mines!
Jamie: Garage sales! Estate sales–those are awesome too. We try to hit those as much as possible as well. But then people come in and talk to us too! “I have a collection that my kids don’t want anymore. I’m getting older, I want to make sure it doesn’t get thrown away. Are you guys interested in buying it?” So... a lot of stuff like that. [She goes off with a customer.]
TYG: This store is wonderful–so amazing!
Jesse: Thank you–that just means so much to us. We just do it one day at a time... [There ensues some conversation about an oversized pack of cards, and several versions of Sorry games.]
TYG: You know, one of the most incredible board games I’ve ever seen, as just a work of art, is at the Overleaf. They have a penguin chess game. It’s chess, but all the pieces are exquisitely crafted and painted, and I’m guessing they’re made of wood. Penguins. It’s amazing.
Jesse: I want to go there and check it out!
TYG: I don’t know if they still have it out, but it used to be that you could just walk in there and start playing.
Jesse: We should have a Sorry game here pretty soon! We were thinking of having a game night.
TYG: Yes, this is a perfect space for a game night! [...] Is there anything else you wanted to talk about?
Jesse: Well, one thing we haven’t talked about is our vision.
Jamie: Yes, the future plans for this place! Because this [gestures around] is like maybe a quarter of what we want to do with this place. This front area is always pretty much going to be our shop, the retail space. That back hallway-ish looking room, we want to turn it into the local history and oddities museum. There’s a big blank wall where we have all those scientific posters up.
TYG: Have you been to the Little Log Church Museum?
Jamie: Yes, I love that place! [...] So we want to turn that wall with all the scientific stuff into a feature wall to showcase local artists. So every few months, depending on the theme–like June is Gay Pride month, so have a theme back there with maybe a local artist who’s part of the LGBTQ community, and Creature Features as well, like animals that practice homosexuality and weird things; odd, crazy things that you don’t even think of happening. And then there’s a big room back here that we want to turn into a classroom, where we’ll have resident artists come in and do classes, marine ID classes, Jesse has some ideas for like an outdoors exercise program–everything. There’s a geologist that wants to come in...
TYG-Editorial Assistant: I’d like to ask a question... What’s the story behind the posters and photographs of the lunar soil samples and micro-crater studies?
Jamie: Awesome question, because it’s something that we just recently acquired and it excites us beyond reason. There was an estate sale that was south of Florence actually, of a geo-physicist who passed away, and it was his life-long collection. He was the highest-paid geophysicist in America during his career. He worked a lot during the Apollo 10 mission. And so we have those posters back there depicting some of the scientists that were working on that, some of the lunar dust they found that they blew up...
TYG: Yes, the zap craters!
Jamie: Yes! And then we also have some of his sifting trays, different meshes to sift the lunar rocks and stardust and stuff like that. He’s a really cool man–we have a little pamphlet on him, [Gerald J. Wasserburg].
TYG: So, anything else?
Jesse: On the 4th of July we’ll have this outdoor area open, and I hope to have ready by the 4th a kind of seating area, and then we’re going to have an herb garden on the side. And also we’re going to be expanding on the inside to have more retail room just for the summer.
TYG: Well thank you so much!
Jamie: Thank you Allen! It’s been a joy!
Jesse: Thank you so much!
Interview with Morgen Brodie
TYG: So, how did you come to Yachats?
Morgen: My daughter [Star] and granddaughter [Pi] had moved here, and they started campaigning pretty early on. I thought, “Yeah, you know, I’m not really ready to move yet, but I’ll think about it–I’ve always loved it here.” Then my daughter sent me a drive-by photo of a house with a teeny little hand-lettered “For Sale” sign in it, that had gone up the day before. I called the owner in California and looked at the YouTube. About a minute in, I knew it was my house! I call these situations the milagros: The people who get here despite all logic, despite all money, depite everything... and that’s how it happened to me!
TYG: I know a few of those as well.
Morgen: Yes! It totally came together.
TYG: It happened for us, as well! We were in Washington, Kalama, [my parents] had dreamed [of coming] out here! [They had] been here before, and thought how cool it would be to work out here. And then it opened up!
Morgen: See? How long ago was that?
TYG: 10 years–wow!
Morgen: Isn’t it odd? I remember, I only came here four years ago, and you were a kid! And now I look at the pictures, and I think “Oh my god! Who is that young man?”
TYG: So, you’re a social worker! How did you get into that?
Morgen: Quite by accident. I majored in medieval drama and philosophy and theology, so [makes a raspberry sound] job prospects, not so much! And I just kind of fell into it, over and over. I worked for a bunch of different non-profits, and ended up working for the state for a long time.
TYG: So what exactly did you do as a social worker? I’ve always been kind of fuzzy on what it is.
Morgen: Well, I’m not a trained social worker academically. So my philosophy of it–and I became a trainer and a policy-setter, so I got to spread that around, is that you are able to come into a juncture of people’s lives when they’re having trouble. [It’s] maybe their own trouble, or somebody else is having trouble about their choices. You earn some trust with them, and you try to figure out what’s going on from their perspective, and what their options are. You offer them whatever choices you’re aware of, and listen to their own choices and why they make them, and just try to be helpful. A lot of it was crisis-oriented. I’ve worked in domestic violence, and elder abuse.
TYG: Always a hard place to work.
Morgen: Very hard! But people have the right to make their own choices, and as they understand what they’re doing, and as they understand what their options are, it doesn’t always please other people, but I don’t think that was my job.
TYG: It’s always hard, especially in abuse cases. It’s like, why would you ever do this?
Morgen: Yes, it’s pretty complex. And, why would you stay the first time somebody hurt you? But that’s pretty complex too. I think that being respectful to people and trying to help them see what the options are is the main thing.
TYG: Absolutely–that’s a worthy cause. So I hear you’re a local artist as well!
Morgen: [laughs] I make things, yeah. I like to think of myself as a craftswoman–it’s less pressure. I’ve dabbled in a lot of media, and I’m partner in a gallery.
TYG: So what kind of stuff do you make?
Morgen: Right now I’m mostly working in fabric, and I’m starting to play with ceramics. I have a friend who has a kiln, so we get together once a week and just make things.
TYG: That’s really cool! So you make pots and pans and stuff?
Morgen: I do different whimsical things. I work with wool, so I knit and felt, and do wall hangings.
TYG: Wool is a beautiful material.
Morgen: Yes, I love it. I have a shower stall–not my main shower stall!–full of raw wool that has to be processed. It’s so cool to just follow all the way from the sheep to the finished product.
TYG: So do you spin the wool yourself?
Morgen: I do!
Morgen: Well, I’m lazy about it, so I can, and sometimes I do, but I have a friend who’s a good spinner who keeps me supplied, too.
TYG: That sounds amazing!
Morgen: It’s very meditative, and I just like taking raw materials and seeing what can happen with them, what they want to be more than what I want them to be.
TYG: Because once you get into the status where you’re slowly knitting something, even though your hands are moving, your mind is free.
Morgen: That is absolutely true, Allen. It helps me focus. I usually am knitting constantly, like if I go to a meeting or a talk. I have friends who went to medical school in Germany, and they said that it’s very common for people to be knitting during the lectures. If I’m not doing something with my hands, I’m not paying attention.
TYG: Was there anything else you wanted to talk about?
Morgen: I really love being here; I find it’s a place to be really contemplative, which is what I’m about at this time in my life.
TYG: Trying to understand yourself? One has to understand oneself before one can understand anyone else, really.
Morgen: Well, I think that’s true, Allen. And the work that I’m doing now is consciously trying to step outside of myself and look at the world from other perspectives, particularly with regard to racism, which is work that I’m doing right now. You know, you have this concept of the world that was given to you, and you operate as though it’s true, and you don’t recognize the harm that it does to other people and to yourself.
TYG: Sometimes you don’t recognize its inadequacies as well, where it doesn’t explain anything.
Morgen: Absolutely! Or you think it explains everything, and you embrace it so tightly, and then you find out that there’s nothing there. It’s like the Wizard of Oz.
TYG: I still love that the whole thing behind that movie was a brilliant con artist. [...] Well, thank you so much!
Morgen: Thank you Allen, it was an honor to speak with you!
Morgen Brodie is part of River Gallery, at www.rivergalleryart.com or 503-838-6171, located at 184 South Main Street in Independence. The gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11-5. Our August show is Eclipsing Color: Adventures in Black and White. We’ve invited all our artists to submit black and white work only for that month. We’ll be having a party starting at 9 am for the eclipse and have special eclipse T shirts for sale.