Growing up in Pistol River

I suppose, now I’ve slept for a night, that I should have considered thinking of an actual topic before I promised a blog yesterday.  Yet, here I am. It’s twenty-till-eight in the morning, and I’m blogging.  This is more blogging than I’ve done in about 45 days. Exhausting. I should go back to bed.

I spent an hour yesterday evening talking to my mother, who is about to become a great grandmother. It’s hard to get my head around this concept. She’s still young, right? Yeah. And I’m still nineteen. That’s the way it should be, even if it’s not reality. At any rate, we were talking about blogging, and about family, and about places we’d been, and remembered, and half-remembered. Here are a few snapshots of my memories.

Pistol River, Oregon, southward view from Cape Sebastian. This is where I spent my childhood and adolescent years.

I grew up with a large extended family. I had lots of cousins, and aunts and uncles, and cousins-by-marriage, and neighbors I believed I was related to (only to discover years later, I wasn’t). I’ve contacted three people on Facebook in the last 18 months who I’ve discovered were distant cousins, and I never even realized it, even though we went to the same high school and occupied the same classes.

If having a large family seems strange, it’s even stranger when you have a large family, and you live in a rural community. You learn family stories and whispers, half truths, and gossip; you learn about crimes committed and heroic acts, and think, “all this blood is in me. With the tiniest twist of fate, I could have been any of my cousins.” Hero or villain. I had two cousins slain by police because the cousins weren’t too terribly bright and because the cops were trigger-happy that day. My own grandfather’s neck was crushed in a Jeep accident, leaving him in excruciating pain and almost completely disabled. He turned 85 yesterday. I had a cousin fall out of the rafters of a barn, lose a tooth, and bruise his head so badly it’s a wonder he lived at all.  He laughed off the injury, and dress as a gaudy cheerleader at a Halloween party; his facial bruises comprising the bulk of the “make up”. We had a neighbor — we might have been related; I never knew for sure — who, it was whispered, was related to the infamous 1970s plane hijacker DB Cooper, who left the plane with a parachute and a knapsack full of passengers’ money. We kids weren’t allowed to ask him about it, and I heard “Coop” Cooper got really mad if you tried. We liked to believe that he had piles of money buried under his trailer house, up in the sand on the mouth of the Pistol River. I remember when Mount St Helens erupted, hundreds of miles away. The volcano left a thin layer of ash on everything. You couldn’t rub it off your car with a cloth because, we were told,  volcanic ash scratches paint. I went to a two-room schoolhouse, the six grades divided between two teachers. If you got mad at a teacher, you could just wander off, any direction, and head for the woods until Grandma and her squat yellow school bus picked us up a few hours later. (I never did get mad enough to do that, although I would have loved to explore the hills and open fields around the school).

OK, reading back, I really did have nothing to say. Excuse my pointless reminiscing. I’m about to be a great uncle. I think that entitles me.

I hope to blog more tomorrow.


5 thoughts on “Growing up in Pistol River”

  1. Yeah! You did it! It doesn’t matter if you call it ‘pointless reminiscing,’ with which I will disagree, anyway; it matters that you said you were going to write and you did. I always enjoy reading about Pistol River and its rich and storied past…amazing to think we’re connected to it! And, as always, I just enjoy reading your writing. Rock on! 🙂


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