If you’ve spent any time in Hoquiam in the past 20 years, you’d probably recognize Tracy Wood — you might even know her.
You might have seen her pouring beer at 8th Street Ale House, or taking minutes for the Hoquiam City Council. You might have seen here organizing a horde of runners or running down the street herself with a 12-foot Seahawks flag in tow.
But whenever you see her, you’ll be sure to see her doing something. The 56-year-old doesn’t plan on ever retiring from either her job at the City of Hoquiam or the 8th Street Ale House.
“I just stay busy,” Wood said. “I’d go crazy if I didn’t. I probably won’t ever retire.”
Life-long civil servant, life-long bartender
Wood is an expert on two things: the inner workings of the City of Hoquiam and how to be a friendly, small-town bartender. The first skill has been about 20 years in the making — she started working for the city after moving to Hoquiam in 1993. But the bartending, that comes from a whole lifetime of practice.
“My dad had a bar when we were growing up, so it’s just old hat to me,” Wood said.
Wood grew up in a small, rural logging town in eastern Idaho — about 30 miles from Yellowstone National Park. Her father worked as a logger during the summer, and managed a bar in the winter. It wasn’t uncommon for Wood and her siblings to hang around the bar, chat with customers and do some work.
“When I was little, kids could actually go in bars,” Wood said. “And we’d take the old dumbwaiter down to the basement and fill the liquor orders and pull the ropes to come back up and put them on the shelf. And they built us all little stools so we could stand and shoot pool with all the old guys in the bar. So I’ve been shooting pool since I was probably 3 years old.”
So when her friend Bill Gibbons was in the market for a part-time bartender at 8th Street Ale House, Wood was the natural choice. She was already a regular customer at the bar, and wasn’t afraid to get up and help when things were busy.
“It’s kind of my social time, because if I’m not working there, I’m usually at meetings,” Wood said. “I get to see people I know, I’ve gotten to know most of the customers, and it brings up a lot of good memories for me.”
“It’s a nice group of people, it’s a nice place and it never gets rowdy,” she added. “That’s what I like about it.”
Between her job at 8th Street Ale House and her job at the city, Wood is always up-to-date on Hoquiam happenings.
Since starting the job 20 years ago, she’s filled several roles at City Hall: she’s the Hoquiam City Council secretary, she manages the parks department and the cemetery, she’s done payroll for the finance department and she used to be the mayor’s secretary.
“I actually applied for this job online before I moved here, and my interview was two days after I arrived,” Wood said. “I just lucked into this job. It came around at the right time, and here I am. And I have no intentions of leaving.”
Wood has worked with three mayors: current Mayor Jack Durney and former Mayors Roger Jump and Phyllis Schrauger. She’s also worked with countless council members. Wood has no plans to run for a Hoquiam City Council seat herself, but she’s enjoyed being part of the city’s political process.
“My job with the council has been great — it’s fun to be involved in that political side,” Wood said. “I don’t have any say in anything, but it’s nice to get to know some of those guys, especially when they’re giving years of their lives to the city.”
She’s also played a large role in recent Hoquiam park improvements, including the replacement of nearly all the playgrounds and the construction of the new spray park. She also organizes 11 fun runs and races the city hosts annually.
“It’s sometimes stressful, but I think we’ve come a long way,” Wood said.
There’s still time for fun
One of the best things about living on Grays Harbor, Wood said, is the proximity to the Seahawks. She describes herself as more than just a fan — she’s a fanatic.
“It was exciting to move over here because we were actually fans in Idaho,” Wood said. “So it was really cool to see them play live. It’s really cool to be down here where all the fans are.”
Wood proved she’s one of the Harbor’s biggest fans in 2007, winning playoff tickets in a radio contest. Fans ran down the streets of Aberdeen dressed in Seahawks gear for the chance to see Seattle play the Redskins.
“I actually sewed myself a 12-foot flag to carry behind me running through the cars,” Wood said. “And I won. So that was pretty exciting, to go to a playoff game. Me and my son went to the game, and I couldn’t talk for a week afterwards.”
But Wood didn’t move to Grays Harbor just because of her love for the Seahawks — she moved here for family. Wood and her children moved to Hoquiam in 1993 to live closer to her parents. Her dad was originally from Shelton, but moved to Idaho during the 1960s for a logging job.
Wood’s brother and sisters, children and grandchildren also live nearby.
“It’s nice to have them all close,” Wood said. “And my brothers and two sisters are close by, too. We all kind of came out after mom and dad did. At least once a month, I try to do something with them.”
There’s no doubt in Wood’s mind that she’s a true Hoquiamite — she doesn’t consider herself an Idahoan anymore.
“This is where I belong,” Wood said. “It’s where my kids were raised, it’s where my parents lived and I love being here.”