In the 1950s ever more newspaper stories speak of crime. Those reports tend to include the words "automobile," "alcohol," "burglary," and "young men."
Cars were reported stolen elsewhere and driven here (in one case, over the cliff down by North Head); grocery stores were regularly targeted for unauthorized late-night self-provisioning expeditions, as were cafes and gas stations in remote locations; juveniles were reported involved in break-ins followed by parties of such enthusiasm that the law turned up; and adult burglary rings made regular calls out to the coast.
Alcohol and automobiles, those Siamese twins of societal uproar, were at the heart of many episodes:
"Geo. J. Buri, local justice of the peace, reported 17 court cases for the big week-end here, there being six cases for speeding, six for drunk and drunk and disorderly, two cases for lack of driver's license, and three for drunk driving. Buri remained on duty from 10 a.m. Saturday until midnight that same day, and then enroute home was called back into service to set bail for another case held under the First street blinker light."
-June 26, 1953
Burglaries begin to be a regular aspect of the newspaper's front page:
"According to Deputy Sheriff Geo. Maltman, seven houses on the ridge in the Loomis district were broken into between Monday and Friday of last week, very little was taken other than fishing gear and tools. Discovery of the break-ins was made by Marshall Rogers Jr. while reading PUD meters.
-Feb. 22, 1957
"The Sugarman Food Store burglary of last week, and the Elks burglary of last Thursday night were solved Saturday night, and the three Seaview juveniles taken to Pacific county jail early Sunday morning.
"Recovered for Joe Sugarman, owner of the grocery store at Seaview, was $1,682 in currency, an undetermined amount of checks and 15 cases of beer ...
"The case broke shortly after the lads invited other local boys to buy and partake of some of the merchandise."
-March 7, 1958
The Chinook Observer of June 13, 1958, was filled to the masthead with crime news: three boats were burglarized Sunday at Nahcotta; a man at the wildlife station has gas cans and hose stolen; the Long Beach grange hall had been broken into and tools were stolen; and in Chinook, Arville Nelson heard his Buick being stolen in the night. (The car was recovered in Aberdeen.)
August of that same year, the sheriff and his crew went to work after a group of nine juveniles of 15- to 17-year-olds had committed a dozen different thefts in two days.
"After continued calls reporting stolen items, the law officers started a search, and finally landed a key to the whole situation. All nine boys were having breakfast ... in Seaview when Felber and Maltman arrived to question the lads, and at first got nowhere, but upon searching through [a car], found a bottle of heart pills which had been reported stolen from one visitor's car, thereby opening up an avenue to locating the entire loot which was hidden under a garage."
-Aug. 8, 1958
The young men were from the Longview-Kelso region.
But it wasn't all kids on a tear. And it wasn't all the male of the species.
"Sixty thousand dollars worth of stolen goods, part of which was taken from this peninsula, was uncovered this week by law enforcement officials breaking a burglary ring. Deputy Sheriff George Maltman stated that 12 peninsula burglaries have taken place since last summer, totaling a loss estimated at $2,000.00 with the highest single loss being $650.00 ...
"As a result of the recent recovery, six persons are in jail including two husband and wife teams ... in jail at Tillamook ... [and] Tacoma ... [and a single man] is in jail at McMinnville. [None are from the Peninsula] ... Fourteen robberies have occurred on the Peninsula since last summer."
-Dec. 19, 1958
The following week, the newspaper reported that the criminals had been selling their loot to Seattle pawn shops.
"Sid's Seaview grocery came into the break-in picture Tuesday night, the burglars gaining entry through a rear door of the establishment ... It was believed the burglars would have taken more merchandise, only they couldn't find boxes for packing, or else they were frightened away, for one loaded box was left near the rear door. [They took] a part of a rear quarter of beef, three pot roasts, sides of bacon, hams, $16.80 in change, cartons of cigarettes, flash camera bulbs, film, flour, corned beef, candy bars and gum."
-Jan. 16, 1959
"Goods stolen between January 15-16th from two homes ... was recovered last week and returned to owners, Deputy Sheriff George Maltman reported this week. According to the deputy sheriff, five juveniles were mixed up in the break-ins, and gave themselves away by turning loose a barrage of shotgun firing near here after possessing the stolen guns. In the loot, besides guns, were liquor, binoculars, fishing gear, glass balls, telescope and other items.
-Jan. 30, 1959
One particularly lively episode happened in June of 1959, during a busy weekend.
"The Old West' broke out in Long Beach early Saturday morning when [a 22-year-old man from] the McChord air base was shot twice after he had thrown his .22 calibre pistol into action, firing at pursuing state patrolmen who were making an attempt to take [him] into custody for erratic driving.
"[H]is chase started here when patrolmen tried to overtake [his pickup] for a driving offense; the McChord man headed north on highway 12-A [Hwy 103] with patrolmen in pursuit. During the run Sgt. Harold Cusic leaped into the back of the pickup whereupon [the driver] was reported to have threatened [him] with a pistol; the officer then jumped from the pickup and aboard one of the officer's cars.
"The chase continued, [the air man] firing several shots at the officers as he sped on to Klipsan where he took off for the beach, leaving his car and going by foot into the sand dunes with Cusic and William Snodgrass, a member of the Kelso state patrol, on his trail. More shots were exchanged and finally Cusic shot the gun from [the subject's] hand, and Snodgrass followed to fire a slug into the upper portion of [his] left lung effecting a capture. The fugitive gave flight after being wounded. The airman had come to Long Beach to participate in the annual Gypsy Tour and Motorcycle Rally ...
"[He] was charged with two counts of assault in the first degree."
-June 19, 1959
The accused was returned to McChord air base late in June. In October he pleaded guilty to a charge of assault in the first degree. The court deferred his sentence for three years, "providing he pay costs of court and that he abide by rules and regulations of the board of prison terms and paroles."
While criminal activity is a social constant, "a rank and sturdy weed," the times were now definitely wilder than before the war.
Without statistical study, it is hard to do more than waffle editorially, but judging by the news, crime increased markedly beginning in the 1950s.
That seems a reasonable supposition, considering the post-war economic boom, the ubiquity of the automobile, the growth of the Peninsula, and the general social changes suggested by popular music, films, and television. And this was only the beginning.