Every now and then a group of like-minded citizens sets to work providing just what the community needs. In Ocean Park and Nahcotta, in the mid-1930s, those citizens were the wives and mothers of the north-end villages.
The group organized themselves as the Village Club and each year they put on a fund-raiser of a carnival that became the talk of the Peninsula.
In the spring of 1942, for instance, the newspaper tells us, "The carnival got off to a grand start with ... a fashion parade depicting styles from the early 1880s to the modern age of 1942, modeled by the upper grade girls." Following that came a production modeled after Major Bowes' Amateur Hour; featured events were "Ione Sheldon as the drunken tap dancer; Dan Mosher, a harmonica solo; Lyle Clark, ... a hula demonstration; ... [and] Norma Clark and Lucile Wilson giving a song and dance which was interrupted by the well-known 'gong.'"
After the program, the concessions opened: bingo, a fish pond, routlette, archery, a milk bottle throw, a fortune-telling booth, a candy booth manned by Adele Beechey and the 4H club girls. That year they cleared $150.
Columnist Ray Stone reported in 1951 that, "in spite of one of the foulest nights of the winter [the carnival was now held in November] the Village Club Carnival broke all previous attendance records and spending." That year the group cleared $1,114, and somewhere around 500 people attended.
How did the Village Club do it? They solicited raffle prizes everywhere, from merchants up and down the Peninsula, over in Astoria, and even in other parts of Washington; they worked on it all year. Elderly members who were housebound sewed doll clothes to outfit the elegantly-clad prize doll that was given away each year.
In the '50s, carnival-goers came away with Remington automatic shotguns, Schwinn bicycles, huge turkeys and hams for the upcoming holidays, waffle irons, a blue parakeet, those dolls with their wonderful wardrobes.
And what did the Village Club do with the money it raised? Stone tells us: "The whole interior of our school beams with the many things they have given to the school and the school lunch program. The huge refrigerator, dishes, serving trays, the recent addition of a restaurant-sized kitchen work table are just a few of the outstanding things they have graciously given to our school. Mr. and Mrs. Peninsula are truly thankful for many needed items which a closely trimmed [school] budget just can't supply." They provided tools for the manual training department; badminton equipment for physical education classes; an electric stove, steam table and refrigerator for the school kitchen; a hot water heater for school showers; and shrubs, bulbs, and topsoil for the school grounds.
In 1952 the ladies of the club decided to sponsor a Valentine's Day square dance - 50 cents a person admission - "to raise money to have the Park school gym interior recovered with tile." Two years later, they set about providing a television set for the local nursing home. "These live-wire women of the Park, holding up their usual spirit of cooperation, decided the shut-ins need TV and will start fund-raising solicitations at once over this whole area," reported the Feb. 5, 1954, Chinook Observer. The TV was a huge success.
On into the '60s. the Village Club would remodel the library and continue to provide books for it, install a concrete double tennis court on the school grounds, enclosing it with steel wire fencing, and lay by enough money to build a small community building just west of the school. All three of those projects are still in evidence. The library was the forerunner of the Ocean Park library, and on the tennis/basketball court a group of youngsters regularly shoots hoops.
"Ocean Park Village Club women have taken over the initiative in raising money for Ocean Park-Nahcotta street lights. The Park being unincorporated creates a problem of obtaining money for the street lighting. Last year the Park chamber of commerce carried on the project, but having dropped it, the Villagers have taken over, and will carry on a house to house campaign throughout the Park and Nahcotta."
-Nov. 8, 1957
"Women of Ocean Park Village Club a short time back announced that they would sponsor a house-to-house fund-raising campaign to keep the street lights burning in Ocean Park and this week reported as having made their objective, having raised $276.00 which will pay up back lighting bills and assure street lighting for the next six months."
-Dec. 13, 1957
This fine civic organization served its area well. Its last community act, in the late 1980s or early 1990s as the dwindling group went about disbanding itself, was to sell its property west of the school, and give the money toward building the Senior Center planned for Klipsan Beach. In that context, the Village Club continues to serve the communities of the Peninsula.