What They Miss About the Oregon Coast - A Living History
Published November 2008
(Oregon Coast) - It was the coast the way it once was. And there are plenty of folks who remember chunks of living history about the region, and its more rugged, even ruddy appearance and vibes before the last ten years' of growth spurts took hold and changed the landscape and feel.
BeachConnection.net talked to a variety of coastal residents and regulars who brought some interesting moments of the coast's past back to life.
Linda Burt, marketing coordinator for the Inn At Spanish Head remembers numerous areas of the coast from her days of living in Portland.
I miss going to the beach at Seaside in the summertime in my little black MGB with my five-year-old son and my little sister. We would spread out a beach towel and lie in the sun on lovely white sand. It didn't have all the grubby blackened sand that came later, probably from beach bon-fires. We could lie in the sun and run into the water for many hours without getting sunburned, protecting our skin with nothing but baby oil. You can't do that today!
My husband and I have been married for nearly 40 years. Our first outing date was to Lincoln City. We rented a small house (don't know where it was) with our two small sons (5 and 7; they are now 45 and 47) and we had to climb down a ladder to get to the beach. But the view was wonderful and the kids loved it. We went to Kenney's IGA to get food and my (now husband) guy realized he had forgotten his wallet. I was so broke, living from payday to payday, that I wrote a check, even though I barely had enough money in the account to cover the check. We had spaghetti and a bottle of wine.
I was marketing director for Shilo Inns for 16 years and spent many hours at the beach - from Warrenton/Astoria to Newport, where all the Shilo Inns are. I could spend lots of time telling you about projects I've worked on: such as the coordination of the Desert Storm/Gulf Memorial and the spectacular dedication we had, or the initial founding sponsorship of SOLV that provided bags in all of Shilo's lobbies, for tourists who came to pick up trash. Then there were the public relations nightmares when Shilo's owner sold land to the Siletz to build the casino, convention center, etc.
Oh, yes, those were the days.
Donna Weiss, owner of Weiss’ Paradise Suites in Seaside, has some firsthand experiences with a Seaside now gone.
The first thing I think of is the Pypo Club. For me, that goes back to very early 60's. And of course we are never allowed to forget the "Great Riot of 1962.” I don't remember it that way, but then again, I was just a kid. Life was wonderful back then and going to the Pypo Club to hear music was the greatest. Paul Revere and the Raiders played there and someone told me they stayed at our hotel. Not sure if that is true or not. It makes me smile just to think of those times.
Robert Thornton, Newport resident, used to own and run a funky all-ages club called Cape Fear there for a year back in the 90’s. It was quite the metropolitan music scene, with some hilarious moments. He, of course, looked back fondly on that one as well as some other wacky nightlife monuments in Newport.
Cape Fear...obvious reasons. Old Moby Dicks with the funky red velvet interior, and when it was a biker bar that had 30-plus bikes out front on any given weekend. Same goes for "Captain Kids" bar that was right around the corner.
I miss the The Ooga Nooga Cookie Factory that use to be in Agate Beach, and the old Cafe Mundo: had a better vibe to it.
Carole Barkhurst, head of the Depoe Bay Visitors Center, remembers a coast back in the 50’s that was really, really laidback but more rugged.
My grandfather lived just south of Seal Rock for many years. For all of the grand kids that was where we spent our summers. He taught every one of us how to swim by taking us down to the ocean and letting us get into trouble before showing us how to respect the ocean and never turn our back.
My uncle always came down for July 4th and we shot firecrackers from under and over everything we could get find. Tin cans really could fly. Kids today miss so much. We spent our entire summers running the hills, playing in the ocean, discovering the world.
There was a great old tavern at the north of Waldport by the old bridge. We kids could always go in with the adults and sit on the bar stools. We were always given our drinks in glasses just like the adults and with a flourish that made us feel so very grown up. I remember the day a man brought in two baby bear cubs. The mother had died. He was trying to find homes for them. I could not understand why we could not take them home.
Donetta James is Director of Sales & Marketing at Oregon Beach Vacations in Lincoln City, and the famed attraction of Pixieland was on her mind.
I recall my dad bringing us kids to the beach when I was little. He was a preacher, so we had very little money and maybe made it to the beach once per year. We lived in Willamina, not so far away. I recall that as we rode along the very long road through the corridor, in the old 57 Ford (not a "cool " car then), we would roll down the windows as we saw the "leaving the Van Duzer Corridor" sign. With our little faces shoved out the windows we would proclaim that we could smell the ocean.
Dad would stop somewhere (not sure where) and buy each of us three children a beach ball and our destination would be the Siletz Bay Beach. That was his destination. As children, however, our destination was Pixieland and then to Pixie Kitchen, which we knew we'd visit before heading to the sand.
After Pixieland we would head to Pixie Kitchen. I don't recall what we would eat, but it wasn't really the food that us children were excited about, but rather the experience. There was a wonderful gift shop with brilliant colored candies like I had never seen before, small trinkets, shells and pretty things that I could only dream of owning one day. We would poke our heads through the big cutouts and wish our parents had cameras to take our photos, like the other people (tourists) did of their children. We would wait for the musicians to roam around and sing their tunes while dancing about. What a magical time for three young preachers' kids who weren't allowed to dance or to sing anything other than a hymn!
Kay Christianson of Meredith Lodging in Manzanita remembers an Oregon coast over 40 years ago.
My grandmother and great grandmother brought me to the North Oregon Coast as a child and now I am my Grandmother! I miss the slower pace of getting to the coast. No high speeds, stopping for a picnic, enjoying the gorgeous ride through the Mountains. In Seaside I miss the old natatorium and the smaller shops with nothing but junk to look at and buy as a souvenir. Harrison's bakery was always special. I can still taste the chocolate éclairs. Cannon Beach was much more laid back and much more quaint instead of trendy. Manzanita was very nondescript and I miss all the old cabins now replaced by very expensive homes. I used to caddy for my grandparents on the golf course that is now Neahkhanie Meadows Estates. Actually, of the three, Manzanita has remained the quaintest.
Jeanne Clark from the Seaside Chamber of Commerce looked back at a restaurant about five years ago.
I really miss Ambrosia. This was a great white tablecloth restaurant at Avenue A and Holladay. The best crab cakes ever - light and melt in your mouth - wonderful food and service - a classy place. New in Seaside is Maggie's on The Prom is coming close by Ambrosia really was.
Karen Scrutton, co-owner of A1 Beach Rentals in Lincoln City, remembers various areas of this coastline.
Gene and I have been coming to the Oregon coast for 50 years. We miss the Go Carts, Bumper Cars and driving on the beach in the off-season (November through April). Long Beach still has Go Carts and Seaside has Bumper Cars. Would be nice to see the Go Carts come back to Lincoln City: so much fun for the entire family.
Phillip Johnson, who directs the CoastWatch program of the Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition,, had a lot to say.
I miss the loneliness of the Curry County coast 40 years ago. I remember traveling the coast in a rattletrap VW van in the '60s. Heading north from Brookings as darkness fell, you would see scarcely a light, and think to yourself, if the car breaks down, it's going to be a long walk to get help. The beautiful bare hills were empty, not crowned with view castles and cell phone towers.
I miss the slum with an ocean view, as everyone called Nye Beach decades ago. Between the end of its heyday as an early-day resort in the late 19th and early 20th century, and its recent yuppification, the Nye Beach area of Newport reversed the usual order of things. It was one place where the poor had the oceanfront residences. The housing stock was tatterdemalion, to the say least - a lot of people were living in 70-year-old tourist cabins. But it was where artists, writers, craftspeople and hippies lived, along with deckhands, cannery workers and others from Newport's genuine working class. The Hotel Gilmore, now transmogrified into the Sylvia Beach Hotel, was a character unto itself - a lot of junkies and drunks spent time there, but a lot of poetry and prose got written there as well. The raffish feel of the place wasn't created by design, it simply evolved because people willing to live in funky, rundown houses and cabins could get right to the edge.
I miss the walk between Netarts and Oceanside. Once you passed the rusty trailer park at Happy Camp (I even miss that!) you could walk for a mile or so without seeing a soul, at least on weekdays, and with scarcely a sign of human presence, aside from glimpses of the motel up on Maxwell Point to the north. It was an easily accessible spot where you could commune with the beach and the sea as though you were on a remote, trackless coast, even if you only had a hour in the midst of a busy day. Now you have The Capes, so massively out of place it is almost eerie, looming over you for most of the walk and entirely changing the feel of the place.
Andre' Hagestedt, editor BeachConnection.net. My own experiences go back to the 70’s, growing up in Salem. I remember the early days of the Cannon Beach Sand Castle Festival, and a lot of time in Waldport and on the rocky ledges of Yachats.
Ironically, I hated the coast growing up, but my love for it began to sprout after 1987.
In the 90’s, I loved the fantastic upscale restaurant in Gleneden Beach called Chez Jeanette – fab filet mignon I got addicted to back in ’93. I, too, miss the old Moby Dick’s. But I also sorely miss the cool rock structure that Jump-Off Joe - in Newport - used to be. It once jutted out much farther into the surf, and slowly trailed down to the ground along a winding structure that looked a lot like a dinosaur tail complete with a spine. That structure fell apart around ’96.
Also in town, I miss the really strange Pip Tide nightclub – a gleefully weirdo dive if there ever was one. Now, Apollo’s occupies that spot.
In Seaside, until around 2000, there was an old strip mall building where the parkade is now. It had loads of character, and included an intriguing antique shop that also served espresso and had loads of fascinating historic coastal photos for sale. There was also some ruddy little mini-mart in that building, which I loved the atmosphere of.
I miss Oceanside the way it used to be back in the 80’s: really hidden, clandestine, and without ugly signs about a local controversy - and no strip joint.
Most of all, I miss that sense of discovery I had when first exploring the north coast: especially the first time (since being a kid) I’d ever ventured north of Tillamook, back in ’97. From there, I felt like Lewis and Clark. It was quite a rush. But I’ve since documented every beach access between Florence and Astoria (180 miles), and there’s little that surprises me in the same way.
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