Up the Beach — Out and about a half-century ago on the North Beach

What ya gonna do on the beach when it’s freezing outside, ice is on the streets, you are wrapped up in a blanket, because, of all times, your heater has gone out, you are stuck drinking bad coffee and can’t do a bloomin’ thing?

Well, since it is the time of the year for nostalgia, you begin wondering about what was going on at the beach around 50 years ago.

If the roads were slippery, you can bet old Sam Cameron of the Tourist Garage in Copalis was hauling someone out of the ditch.

Gas station gabbing

And folks were by the cash register to get out of the cold while keeping an eye on the pump gauge through the window and jawboning with C. “Purse” Stewart at the Flying A gasoline station, Tom’s Richfield Gas Station in Pacific Beach or Joe Black’s Shell Station at Moclips .

If Pop didn’t need gas but was pretty tired of all the bored kids staying at home from school, they were down at the Pacific Beach Garage talking about the possibility of getting one of those new-fangled undercoatings for the pickup.

Bet they were also speculating who was going to get the job opening at the Moclips Civil Service. Heck, you got a whole $2.78 an hour and only had to be able to operate at least two pieces of equipment, such as a bulldozer, tractor, shovel, grader, etc. Piece of cake for most beach guys.

Sneaking off for an evening out

Many of the folks were planning to sneak off in the evening, leaving the little kids with the big kids so they could play shuffleboard at Bob’s Tavern in Moclips, The Spot in Pacific Beach, at Paul and Doris Resor’s Aloha Tavern or go dancing at the Ocean City Tavern.

Maybe they could find out who was hankering to buy Del Cole’s year-old, 1964 Jimmy (GMC) pickup. It was a V6 with almost brand new heavy-duty tires, radio, Posi-traction and other extras. And … he only wanted $1,550 for it.

Beach bargains

The wives weren’t that much interested in a pickup, but boy, oh boy, Duffy Matson has a “Frigidaire” in real good condition for sale for just 30 bucks. If they could swing that, maybe they would have enough room in it, along with enough money, to buy at least a quarter of corn-fed Angus beef from J. V. Tucher on the way to Hoquiam. It was going for just 40 cents a pound, dressed.

Christmas celebrations

Supper table talk centered on what Christmas celebration they could all agree on taking in. Maybe it would be the community dinner at the PB skating rink. The kids would like that because once the tables were cleared off the floor, skating would be free that night. Or, they might go to the big Moclips Community Christmas Dinner where Santa would be giving a small gift to each kid.

There were the church folks who were turning ragamuffin little boys into Kings from the Orient when it was more likely they all would rather be shepherds.

One group of little boys in evidence at the Pacific Beach Gospel Church would include Rick Leighty, Johnny Fry and Kent Figg. Their CEC Boys Club leaders, Ron Roberts and Dick Potter, were making a big deal out of them being the first boys to attain “Twig” rank.

Holiday lights contest

One thing the family could do when the roads cleared up was to take a late evening drive down the beach to see the Christmas lights. The Ocean City Business Club had organized a contest for the best display from the Westwind Motel to Alexander’s-By-The-Sea. The prizes for the top three were $25, $15 and $10.

If the kids were good maybe they would stop and get hot chocolate at the Tide Café where Velma and Art had just sold their business to Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Dahbers. And again, it might be Babe’s Restaurant or something more fancy like the Beacon Room at the Lighthouse at Pacific Beach.

But … the deal was off if there was any fighting in the back seat of the car.

Passion Play

A bunch of the St. John’s Chapel ladies had gone to see the Passion Play in town at the Miller’s Auditorium. Afterward the group went to eat at the Pancake House. It included Ruth Minard, Marion and Lew Keeney — they were always together — Blanche Constantini, Addie Dreezan and Lizzie Houghton.

Remembering military vets

Other women, Maxine Weese, Dora Morala and Vi Chacellor, were too tired as they had driven to Vancouver to the Barnes VA Hospital and the American Lake VA hospital to drop off a big box at each place with wrapped gifts for Vets unable to leave the hospital to give to their family members.

The beach had done well by donating $225.45 to purchase the gifts (about $1,557.85 in 2013 dollars). Things may not have been as lively at the Robert Gray Barracks No. 1501 at the Newton WWI Vets Hall, but it was certain to give some old Vets without families a bit of Christmas cheer.

Up-dos and the “usual”

Christmas hairdo appointments were being made by calling each community’s four-digit number. Cherie’s Beauty Shop at Copalis was fairly new, Ann Maslac at the Ocean Shores Beauty Salon had new hair colors in. Fran Gibson and her assistant Penny at the Aloha Beauty Deck were hosting an Edith Rehnborg beauty clinic. The men would just trot off to Howard Gore’s Barbershop at Pacific Beach and ask for the”usual.”

Shopping locally

While a little bit of shopping would go on in Hoquiam or Aberdeen, most folks knew that gifts for their kids and themselves could be found locally. They had their eyes on certain things at the beach shops, especially Johnson’s Merc in Copalis.

The younger wives were looking forward to those new Capri pants outfits at Bill and Joan Marks’ Sea and Spice store at Ocean Shores. The beach folks liked to shop there because they considered Bill and Joan “a credit to the beach.” Pacific Beach Hardware and Pacific Beach Clothing Store had some neat stuff on their shelves; so did Vi and Jack Zent at their Surf House.

Laying in provisions

As for groceries — well, it was wise to hit all of the markets or you would miss out on whose kids were coming home for the holidays, which relatives that might come would be dreaded by other relatives and who was going to take in folks that didn’t have families. No sense letting anyone eat alone on Christmas Day.

So, the rounds would be made to Ed and Evelyn Church’s Surf Edge Grocery at Moclips, LaBranch’s Grocery at Ocean City, Bannock’s Ocean City Resort Grocery, Miller’s Grocery at Pacific Beach, and dang, wouldn’t you know the Ocean Shores Pharmacy had closed down and now you had to go into the nearest pharmacy in Hoquiam, Harbor Drug, to buy that expensive box of chocolates.

Life might not have been high up on the income scale almost 50 years ago, but it certainly had its charm and warmth.

So … maybe it is good to have cold miserable days where you can only sit and think. It doesn’t always take money to enjoy life. You just take the here-and-now and make the best of it all — slick roads, cold weather and all.

Gene Woodwick may be reached at 360-289-2805 or genewoodwick@coastaccess.com.


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