Ellen Steen

Ellen Steen

It was a great July 4th here in Cape Meares. Our unofficial, unsponsored, spontaneous parade took place right on time at 11 a.m. Parade marshals stepped out smartly, holding a “Get Vaccinated” sign with two participants holding long needles. Children on gaily decorated bikes and red or blue toy cars rode down the street, taking a hand away from steering long enough to give a parade wave. The Walzes drove their white Miata with an honored guest, Karen’s sister Diane, in the passenger seat and an oh-so-true “Living a Dream, Cape Meares, OR” sign taped on its side. Two fire vehicles from our Station 73 participated, with our gung-ho volunteer firefighters throwing candy to the crowd. Parade-watchers sported red-white-and-blue ties, patriotic hats and big smiles. About 60 individuals participated in the parade while close to 150 cheered from the sidelines. The mostly overcast skies kept the temperature just right and a good time was had by all. Next year, we hope the community potluck will return.

As for fireworks, we watched dazzling aerial displays at Rockaway from our living room window, although fog occasionally obscured some of them. Cape Meares itself may or may not have had a few fireworks go off that may or may not have been spectacular as well (official warnings had gone out about not having fireworks on the beach). We could see a couple of bonfires blazing on the beach and in firepits in the neighborhood. Everyone was careful however, knowing fire danger is again high. All in all, a fun 4th of July—and certainly a big improvement over last year!

Cape Meares resident Dave Dittmer recently sent me an interesting newspaper clipping from March 1964. Does that year ring a bell? There was a 9.2 magnitude earthquake at 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, striking Alaska’s Prince William Sound (about 75 miles southeast of Anchorage). It was felt throughout Alaska, rippled south to shake the Space Needle in Seattle, sent tremors east to British Columbia, and generated a tsunami that killed four children camping on the Beverly Beach State Park near Newport, Oregon (a total of 139 individuals died as a result of this quake and resulting landslides and tsunamis).

The Dittmer connection? Dave’s maternal uncle, Bill Makela, was fishing out of Kodiak, Alaska, when that quake hit. He felt a bump on the bottom of his boat and looked around to see the entire fishing fleet of 100 boats canting left and right, and the harbor being shaken, cracking up and sinking. Makela managed to make his way out to sea to ride out the event; he did not get back to land for five days. When he did, he found the tides in the town of Kodiak were running eight feet higher than reported in the tide table. The seismic event had permanently dropped the land level, per a subsequent US Navy report. Thanks Dave, for sharing this personal connection to the Great Alaskan Earthquake, and for making sure we are alert for the next Big One.

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