While I was living in England, the history of that country never ceased to amaze me. I routinely walked past plaques reading, “In 1774, the scientist who discovered oxygen lived here,” and “The marks on this wall were caused by the war in 1643.” I remember the first time I called up a library book that accidentally turned out to be an edition from 1756. (I still hadn’t figured out how to use the library’s online ordering system.) As I recoiled from the fragile thing, horrified that my touch would turn it into a pile of dust, the librarian assured me, “This isn’t really OLD old. We don’t worry about these. Now, if you wanted something earlier than 1500, you’d really have to be careful.”
In comparison, Reedsport’s existence is but the blink of an eye. But the years of rain and rot have taken their toll on our most vulnerable memorabilia, and now a local photograph from 1900 is as precious as any book from 1500. Last Friday we started a concentrated effort to help preserve and share our history by holding our first ever Community Historical Collection Day at the Umpqua Discovery Center. Many thanks to all of the people who came to share their amazing stories, photographs, books, and objects. We were wowed by the things we saw – a poster from 1913, a purple heart, photographs of a nearby extinct town I never knew existed! Thank you for your patience as we figured out a system to make the day go smoothly. A special thank you to all of the volunteers who helped us greet, interview, scan, and photograph. We verged on chaos at times, but never quite crossed over. If you missed out on this Community Historical Collection Day, we’ll be holding another one soon that we hope will be much bigger and more organized than this first run. The material we gather will soon be available online in a searchable archive. Let me know if you are interested in volunteering for a Collection Day or to help organize the archive; we’ll need all hands on deck for both!
Speaking of history, did you know that 25% percent of people in Douglas County claim Irish descent? Our neighbor to the south, Bandon, was even named after a town in Ireland called Bandon. Let’s stay true to roots and raise a glass in honor of Ireland’s patron saint during the St. Patrick’s Day Trivia Challenge & Pub Crawl on Thursday, March 17th. Grab a team and meet at the Eagle’s Lodge at 5pm to begin your crawl. There will be prizes for the most correct answers and greenest team, as well as the chance to enter a 50/50 raffle. Your $20 entry fee will go to support the Reedsport Main Street Program, so thank you! If you’re more of sedentary type, contact me if you would like to volunteer at one of pub stops. And if you’re not big on drinking, take it from a fellow featherweight – pub crawls are just as much fun with fruit juice.
We are still raising funds to hold our next Façade Improvement Grant. Thank you to everyone who has donated towards this successful program. What a difference you’re making throughout town! We plan to open applications for the next grant on April 1st…no fooling. If you or someone you know has a Reedsport business along Highways 101 and 38, start brainstorming façade improvements (if it’s visible from the road, it’s eligible) and keep an eye on our webpage for more info.
Looking ahead to our next regular meetings, our Promotion Committee meets 5pm on Tuesday, March 8th (tomorrow) at Bedrock’s Pizza to talk about events and other topics. The Economic Development Committee will be discussing bikes and more at 5pm on Wednesday, March 9th in the conference room at City Hall. The Board of Directors will talk bylaws when they meet at 5pm on the Ides of March (the 15th) in the conference room at City Hall. And the Design Committee has banners, bridge sections, and the façade grant on their mind as they meet at 3pm, March 17th, in the conference room at City Hall.
Here’s a final thought. One of my friends in England told me that his family had been in the same county since the 1400s, an area a bit smaller than Douglas County. Whenever I would ask him to try something new, like a strange food, he always reminded me that he came from a people who didn’t like change, the ones who had stayed in England. They were the people who didn’t risk everything to move to frontier America. We always laughed about it, but it has made me think. For the most part, we in Reedsport are descended from the people who embraced change. They were the ones who left everything behind to let a ship, a wagon, or an old family car carry them into the unknown. They had the courage to try something new. Do we still have that courage today? I believe we do, even if we never leave Reedsport. Our frontiers are frontiers of the mind, as economist John Maynard Keynes once said: “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.”
All the best,
Reedsport Main Street Program Coordinator