Of the teens and '20sIn the 1910s and 1920s, the North Beach Peninsula, as it was then called, was still very much isolated from the mainstream world beyond. Although electricity, automobiles and radios were coming into everyday use elsewhere, our area was still a backwater - "the jumping off place" some said. We are fortunate to have among our older residents, many who grew up here and stayed or perhaps grew up here, left for a time, and moved back. In this series, Sydney Stevens talks to "The North Beach Girls of the Teens and Twenties" to capture their precious memories of growing up on the Peninsula almost a century, almost a lifetime, ago.
Although sisters JoAnne and Marilyn Hoare moved away from the North Beach Peninsula when they were still quite young, their memories of their early years "at the beach" are vivid. Most of those memories center around the Shelburne Hotel in Seaview and their grandmother, Julia Adkins Hoare.
"I was actually born at the hotel on Aug. 9, 1923," smiles Marilyn. "I don't think there was a hospital on the Peninsula then. By the time JoAnne came along almost three years later, on July 7, 1926, there must have been a small hospital in Seaview or Ilwaco or maybe in Astoria."
"I don't remember," laughs JoAnne.
What both women do remember is that until 1929 they lived with their parents at their Grandmother Julia's Shelburne Hotel. Their family's quarters were located through a door just behind the reception desk.
"I imagine it has changed over the years," says Marilyn. "In those days, our apartment had a bedroom, bathroom, sitting area, and was heated by a wood stove. Our back door opened onto a sun porch which overlooked a flower bed full of poppies."
The ShelburneJoAnne and Marilyn's parents, William C. "Curt" and Vivienne Campbell Hoare had met at the University of Washington, and in 1921 were living in Seattle when word came from Seaview that Curt's father, Timothy Hoare, had died. The elder Hoares owned and operated the Shelburne Hotel and Curt was needed at home to help his mother who so suddenly had become its sole proprietor.
"Grandma treated our mother like she was her own," says JoAnne. They worked in the kitchen side by side and got along beautifully. I think my mother learned a great deal from Grandma."
"Our father worked at other jobs, too," she adds. "He worked for the Cranberry Exchange and in a grocery business. Also, on the road crew. But both Mom and Dad helped out at the hotel as long as we lived there."
Marilyn remembers when the hotel consisted of three buildings joined together. "The hotel must have been very large. It certainly seems so in my memory. But I don't recall what happened to that third building, the one farthest south. I don't know if it was demolished or burned or was moved elsewhere."
Moving buildings from one location to another was not uncommon in those years. In fact, the original Shelburne Hotel was located across the street from its present site, about at the south end of the parking lot of the present-day Sid's Market.
That first building, a two and one-half story wood frame structure, was designed by Charles Beaver and named "Shelburne" after an inn in Dublin, Ireland. It was built in 1896 with lumber milled in South Bend, barged to Nahcotta, and transported to Seaview by the Ilwaco Railroad.
The building had 14 rooms for permanent and summer boarders and was spacious enough to accommodate the four-member Beaver family, as well. The Beavers operated the hotel for 10 years and then moved to Portland when Mr. Beaver took a job with the Western Electric Company there. He sold the hotel to Timothy Hoare who, in turn, leased it to a Mrs. McMillan for five years.
"During those years, Grandpa managed a large restaurant in Portland and also held the rank of captain with the Portland police force. In 1911 he retired or perhaps quit his job for health reasons, and he and Grandma moved to Seaview," says JoAnne. "They became full-time hotel proprietors."
Across the street from the Shelburne was a piece of property with two houses on it and with room on the lot for a third. Grandpa Hoare bought the property and hired a team of horses to pull the hotel across the street and place it to the north and in line with the other two buildings. A covered passageway was built between each of the buildings, joining them together.
"Seaview, like the other little communities on the beach, was a summer destination for many families from Portland," says Marilyn. "They would come down the river on the sternwheeler T.J. Potter and then catch the train to the beach communities to the north. Grandpa convinced the railroad people to make the Shelburne Hotel a regular stop on the line. That was good for business."
"After Grandpa died, Grandma managed both the hotel and the restaurant which served three meals a day," remembers JoAnne. "She would get up at 5:30 every morning and get the fires going. Everything in those days was with wood - heating the hotel, the cookstove, heating water. She worked all day long and the very last thing she did each evening before retiring was to scrub the drainboards in the kitchen."
"The drainboards and sinks were wooden," explains Marilyn. "I remember that she scrubbed them with a big, stiff brush and lye water using her bare hands - no rubber gloves or other protection."
Both women remember Grandma Julia as "very perfect."
"To me, she was the greatest woman in the world that could do it all with a happy face," says JoAnne. "I don't remember that she ever went out. She was always at the hotel."
"Grandma did take a rest for about an hour each day after lunch. She was a Christian Scientist and she would sit in a chair in the lobby each day from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. reading her Bible and her Science and Health bulletins," says Marilyn.
About twice a year Julia would go to Portland to have her feet worked on. "Her feet gave her a lot of trouble - bunions and corns, you know. Probably from being on them all the time. She went to Dr. DeVaney to have them looked after and always felt great relief for awhile after seeing him," adds JoAnne. "I remember, too, that she would get cramps in her legs. Otherwise, she was seldom ailing or sick."
Julia did have two full-time employees who Marilyn and JoAnne remember well: Ghee, the Chinese cook, and Frances Hawks, the Indian housekeeper.
"Frances lived up on the third floor. I remember that she was very short and that she was beginning to lose her vision," says JoAnne. "She cleaned the guest rooms and made the beds."
"Ghee's room was next to the woodshed and washroom with its big laundry tubs," says Marilyn. "There was also a privy back there that had lovely old-fashioned climbing roses growing over it."
Inside the hotel there was just one toilet on the second floor, shared by all. "It was a 'down the hall' arrangement. There was also a separate room at the other end of the hall with a bathtub in it. And, of course, there was a pitcher and basin in every guest room, as well as a slop jar."
JoAnne remembers that her grandmother's room was on the second story just above the front door. "It would have been room number 13 but it was the one room without an identifying number."
Pennies for neatness"Speaking of rooms," she adds. "Our cousin Tim lived at the hotel for awhile when his mother was sick. I asked him once, after we were grown, how he got to be such a neatnik. He said that during the five or six months he lived with Grandma, she would periodically check his room. If everything was put away and it was neat and tidy, she would give him a penny. He was about eight years old and those pennies were a great incentive. The neatness habit stuck."
Neither Marilyn nor JoAnne could attest to another of Tim's stories ... about cookies. If Ghee accidentally burned a batch of cookies, their grandma wouldn't serve them to the guests so the kids got to eat them. According to Tim, when the cousins knew that Ghee had cookies in the oven, they tried to distract him with all sorts of requests or false errands so that he couldn't get back to the oven in time. "Of course," both women say with a twinkle, "we wouldn't remember anything about that!"
"Hotel guests came from all over," says Marilyn. "Often doctors' families from Portland would come and spend the entire summer. The dads would come on the weekends and those trains would be so crowded with men arriving at the beach to join their families that we called them 'the dad trains.' "
During the months that the hotel was crowded with summer visitors, Grandma Julia hired additional help. "She had a Finnish woman, Helmi, waiting tables in the restaurant," remembers Marilyn. "And often in the summer, transients would come by and offer to split wood or do other work in exchange for meals."
The "transients" were usually men who were down on their luck because of hard times, as it was during the Great Depression. Gypsies, however, were another matter and the girls were cautioned to beware of them.
"They lived out by the Willows. I remember once that a black touring car belonging to the gypsies was parked out in front of the hotel. We were told not to go outside under any circumstances. It must have made a big impression on us," says Marilyn, "because we still remember it."
"Another group we were to stay away from," she adds, "were the 'Gypsy Jokers.' They were gangs of motorcycle riders who came to the beach every year. We did not go to Long Beach when they were around."
Moving to Ilwaco
During the summer of 1929 - JoAnne was three and Marilyn was six - Curt and Vivienne Hoare moved their family to Ilwaco.
"Our father bought a house from Fort Canby," says JoAnne. "It was floated across Baker Bay and pulled up the school hill by teams of horses. The house is still there, right across the street from the school."
"I'm sure that Mom and Dad were eager to have a home of their own," says Marilyn. "I was old enough to begin school. And, perhaps by that time, Grandma had enough hired help that she could manage things at the hotel without mom and dad."
By the time JoAnne was ready for second grade, however, the family moved to Astoria. "We moved back to Ilwaco a year later and I should have gone into third grade, but they skipped me ahead to fourth," she says. "The worst part of that was that I missed out on having Miss Morden as a teacher. She taught the third grade and we all thought she was the best teacher at the school.
"While we had been in Astoria, we had rented out our Ilwaco house, but when we returned to Ilwaco, we moved back into it. Mom had two boarders living at our house in those years - Mr. Seagraves who worked at the bank and Oral Portison who taught music, typing and shorthand. We took piano lessons from her," smiles Marilyn. "She had a lovely singing voice, too."
"Living across from the school was grand," says JoAnne. "We used to rollerskate on the sidewalk there. It was the only cement sidewalk in Ilwaco. The rest were all wooden. There was also playground equipment at the school - slides and swings and climbing equipment.
"When I was little, my friend Suzanne Taylor and I used to ride our stick horses up and down the paths behind the school. There was a path down to Black Lake and, later on, we had a swing there. We would swing out over the lake which we all knew was 'bottomless.' It was very scary and great fun."
A not-so-pleasant memory is of good friends Theresa Ann and Jean Kirkman. When the girls were in fourth and six grades, Theresa Ann and Jean were killed by a rolling log on the beach. "It was our first taste of tragedy," JoAnne says. "It was terrible."
Both Marilyn and JoAnne remember when the school burned in February 1936. "It got so warm over at our house!" they chorus, still with a touch of amazement in their voices. "The floors throughout the school building were wood and the custodian took care of them by oiling them and sweeping them with sawdust," says Marilyn. "When the fire started, those floors really burned. When it was over, only the shell of the building remained."
One special activity that JoAnne remembers was going to watch Hermione shiver! "L.D. Williams had a cow that supplied milk to the Williams family. Of course, there was no refrigeration so if the milk started 'to turn' it was given to Hermione, the pig. The milk was cool and when Hermione drank it, she would shiver all over. Today kids go to the mall," she laughs. "We went to see the pig shiver!"
"Even when we lived in Ilwaco, we often went to Grandma's after school," says JoAnne. "I used to practice playing the piano there. The piano was in the dining room. The Kiwanis met there every Monday night and they always used the piano to accompany their singing. Years later when Grandma died, she left me the piano.
"Sometimes when friends were in town they would invite us out to dinner at the Shelburne. And, of course, any big family celebrations were always there. Thanksgiving would include all of us - our cousins Tim, Jack and Jane with their parents Julia and Jack Williams, and sometimes grandma's sister, Aunt Leona Forsman and her husband Albert and daughter Kathryn. Uncle Albert was a carpenter and they lived right across the street from the Shelburne in a house that he had built."
One of the big events at the hotel that the women remember was the party for their great Aunt Alice and Uncle Ed Land's 50th wedding anniversary. "Aunt Alice was grandma's sister and they lived in Seaside. Grandma had a grand celebration for them on the occasion of their 50th. She had the hotel decorated beautifully with gold bells and crepe paper. There was a money tree, too," remembers JoAnne.
Five young cousinsThe five young first cousins would often play at the beach. "We were all within a few years of one another in age and got along fine," JoAnne says. "Once I remember that we were all wading in the waves and I got sort of 'carried out' by the undertow. My mother had hold of my hand and she managed to pull me back in but we were both frightened. Someone must have gone up and 'reported' to Grandma for very soon here came Ghee with a big tray of food for all of us. I've never forgotten how special that made me feel!"
Both women chuckle when they talk about the escapades of their cousin Jack (who many remember in later years as 'Admiral Jack Williams.') "He was fearless," says Marilyn. "Once when he was about six or seven he was walking backwards along the picket fence at their Seaview home and he fell and very nearly bit off the tip of his tongue. Another time he shinnied down the hotel's 'fire escape' which was just a rope hanging out of the third story window. He was just full of beans!"
"He was never mean, though," adds JoAnne. "just full of fun and mischief. None of us were ever mean to one another. We had grand times together."
One of the permanent fixtures at the hotel was Cuckoo, the parrot. "He had been a "birth gift" to our dad. An old seaman friend of the family had given Cuckoo to Dad shortly after he was born. When the family moved from Portland, the bird came along, too, and lived at the hotel with Grandma until her death in 1939," says JoAnne. "Then Cuckoo went to live with Dad again. Dad lived until he was 72 and the parrot actually outlived him!"
"Ted Shultz was the grocery delivery boy. When he would knock at the back door of the hotel he would hear, 'Hello! Come in!' That was Cuckoo responding. His cage was on the counter right by the kitchen door. Cuckoo had quite a vocabulary - he would say, 'Here Deuce,' 'Here kitty, kitty, kitty' and, of course, his own name, Cuckoo."
Famous artist keeps Cuckoo trimmedJoAnne tells that Joe Knowles would come periodically and trim Cuckoo's beak. "We didn't have a veterinarian on the Peninsula and the beak had to be trimmed to keep Cuckoo in good health. I don't know how Joe Knowles knew what to do, but he seemed to."
"Grandma always had cats, but they were outside cats," she continues. "When a mama cat would have kittens, Grandma would take a flashlight outside and look in all the likely hiding places until she found them. Then she would move them to one of the rooms back by the laundry so those 'bad Tom cats' wouldn't get them."
The sisters remember that even with all her inside duties, their grandmother had time to tend the flower garden out in the front of the hotel. Honeysuckle, Shasta daisies, poppies and nasturtiums are among the flowers that grew in profusion.
They remember, too, that Grandma Julia was a woman of strong opinions. "She didn't care for Roosevelt and she disapproved of the NRA (National Recovery Administration or New Deal); she loved the Dionne quintuplets. "But," points out Marilyn, "she usually kept her opinions to herself."
"She was a good manager, too," adds JoAnne. "When she died she left money to every one of her grandchildren - so we could further our educations."
Both Marilyn and JoAnne agree that Julia Hoare of the Shelburne Hotel "was a wonderful woman and a wonderful grandmother. We couldn't have been more fortunate!"