Entering the season of Thanksgiving, I thought it was important to take the time to share my thoughts and possibly add a new perspective. Or perhaps just a simple reminder to those of you who may have lost track or forgotten why we choose to live here.
After retiring with 20+ years from the Air Force, my husband Dave and I made the decision to make a drastic change in our lives. We wanted to separate from the fast pace of city life, the constant chaos, the violence, and crime; as well as the mismatched values, influences, depleting moral and political views which we felt seemed to surround and overwhelm the Portland/Vancouver area. As Dave and I researched and actively looked to find the right place we would call home, our search ended here in our now hometown of Yacolt. Though never before had we heard of this place, a well kept secret I believe. I recall our first impression of Yacolt as we ventured up to a property that was for sale that we had found online. As we made our way through town, my first thought was speed bumps…“speed checked by radar”…really? Of course, maybe they were put there for us to slow down and enjoy what was yet to be seen. First, we passed an old-fashioned train station that we now know as Chelatchie Prairie. Next, we came across this big red building that read “sheriff” on one side and “city hall” on the other. How amazingly simple. Nothing fancy about it, yet it brought the sense of small town we were looking for. That following week, we drove through town intrigued, by the sign which read “Tall Man’s Saloon.” Next, we stopped to look at the old mercantile building. As we walked around the building, Mr. Pete Roberts came up with a smile on his face asking if he could help us with anything. We obviously looked out of place. We shared with him the news that we were thinking of buying property here in Yacolt and we were just getting acquainted with the town. He welcomed us and took time to share a little history of Yacolt. I will never forget his response as I asked what hours the saloon kept. His response to me was, “Well, he doesn’t keep normal business hours, he just opens when he wants to. Probably isn’t too good for business, but he makes it work.” That was probably the selling point for me, if I had one. How simple, small and untainted to the political mess that city life has created. Be proud Yacolt. Pete represents you well. He went as far as taking down our numbers to help us network with other members of this community and extended a sincere offer of support if ever needed. Thank you sincerely to the Roberts family, great members of your community and good people. Not long after, I received a phone call from a Mrs. Janelle Wedding. She told me she received my number from Pete (reminding me he was from Yacolt/town hall). She too welcomed my family to town and asked if there was anything we needed or information on activities she could provide. She informed me of a group of volunteers that meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month to organize town activities and I was welcome to come if interested. A bit overwhelmed, I just couldn’t wait to move. I have never received such a warm welcome in all my life. After 20 plus years in the military, stationed many places, stateside and overseas, I’ve never before came across as warm of a welcome as this.
To add, less than two months ago, on the most important day of my life, Sept. 17th, I married my husband, Dave. My day would not have been what it was without the help of most who barely knew me if at all, and without question offered services and supplies for no other reason than their good natures. Jenell and Tim Wedding, Jennifer and Robert Swenson, Sheri Huffman, Debbie Krieger, Tandy Miller, Becky and Wade Long, Angela and Darrell Mitchell, Dana Bourn, Kelly Roberts, and The Whistle Stop--all from Yacolt--I will forever be indebted and will never forget.
As we approach our one year anniversary in moving here to Yacolt, we still have a lot of the same thoughts about our new hometown. I have learned a lot from so many of you; areas and places to go, bits and pieces of history and those opinions which make this place so unique. It would seem that the families that have lived in Yacolt for decades still inhabit the area as well. I would like to see the town grow, if for no other reason than to remain a viable town and not fade away. I would encourage family businesses to help this town thrive with growth. When you drive into Yacolt, you see a couple of stores and a gas station; as well as boarded up buildings, or some just sitting vacant. While it is nice to see the few that exist, the town seems ghostly. Ideally, I think most would enjoy having a town full of thriving and prospering businesses and not look somewhat less cared for or taken over by abandoned buildings that have been vandalized.
As we made our move and transitioned, I look back at what brought us here. Without a doubt it was God and good choices. We were looking for a simplistic lifestyle, realistic but not narrow-minded, safe, good schools and most of all, back home country USA. You have it all here in Yacolt. Just don’t lose sight of it. I hope I never do.