The book Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges came out April 1, 2011, which means we met our goal of having it out in time to be a part of each bridge’s anniversary celebration. Next, we needed to find out what was planned in each town and if they would be interested in the book. I knew that plans were well under way in Florence for the Siuslaw River Bridge’s 75th birthday and that we would be part of them. By the end of the month, I had called Newport, Waldport, Reedsport, and North Bend.
I learned that Newport had a committee working with plans for events in September/October, since that is when their bridge opened and was dedicated, and they would keep me in mind. Waldport didn’t have any plans, but when I mentioned that it was the 20th anniversary, they added an Alsea Bay Bridge celebration to the Beachcomber Days and Centennial celebration and asked if I could do a presentation. Reedsport had no plans to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Umpqua River Bridge. In North Bend, they said they weren’t going to worry about it until next year when it turned 75. I said, “Do the math!” Within a few minutes, a bridge celebration was added to this year’s North Bend July Jubilee, and I was asked to do a presentation.
During May in Florence, Dick Smith and I were involved with numerous presentations and book signings. During the weekend of the Rhododendron Days celebration, we were really busy with booths in Old Town and at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum selling and signing books. The Rhody Days’ theme was “Spanning the Years: Celebrating the Diamond Anniversary of the Siuslaw River Bridge.” There was a float in the parade with 10 old-timers who had been present when the bridge was originally dedicated in 1936. After the parade, I helped emcee a reception honoring them at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum, where I also gave a short presentation about the book.
I was in Waldport on July 16 and watched the Centennial and Beachcomber Days parade. It was great fun even if it was raining. Afterwards, a few people made it into the Community/Senior Center to attend my “new” Alsea Bay Bridge presentation, but I had competition outside from a band right outside the window, playing Sousa marches. My little group grew to nine and I sold one book. I was bummed at the small turnout, but looking back, perhaps that wasn’t so bad considering the rain and musical competition.
On July 16, during North Bend’s July Jubilee, I gave a presentation at the Coos County Historical & Maritime Museum to a standing room only audience of 55 or so and sold 20 books. They laughed at all my jokes and asked intelligent questions (you know, the ones where I know the answers). This was how I always pictured my presentations. Definitely not bummed this time!
During the summer, folks in Reedsport had a chance to read Crossings and learned that their bridge–the Umpqua River Bridge or as I called it “the Rodney Dangerfield of McCullough Bridges”–had received no celebration when it opened and had no dedication. Since Diane Novak, director of the Umpqua Discovery Center, had been selling the book in the gift shop and had scheduled me to do a presentation on September 8, she decided to combine it with a proper dedication.
And did she ever! Just writing about it brings tears to my eyes; it meant so much to me. There was a group of 40 or so that walked up on the bridge with fog blowing in to watch the Umpqua River Bridge open and have a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony. After the bridge closed, there was a parade of a dozen or more pre-1936 cars with dignitaries and townspeople. A larger crowd gathered a short time later on the boardwalk outside the Umpqua Discovery Center to hear dedication speeches from no less than the town mayor, the county commissioner and state senator representing Reedsport, and ODOT’s manager in charge of bridge preservation. What a lineup! After a reception with a cake decorated with the bridge’s image, the crowd came inside for my PowerPoint presentation. Standing room only and I sold 14 books. I no longer call Reedsport’s bridge the RodneyDangerfield of bridges!
That brings us to Newport where they had a month of activities, celebrating the 75th birthday of the Yaquina Bay Bridge. They included a photo display at City Hall, a bridge display at the Burrow’s House Museum, a photo contest and kids coloring contest, radio spots on KYTE (of which I contributed 10), my talk to the Newport Area Chamber of Commerce, a panel discussion that I participated in, and a big finale with parade and celebration at the northern end of the bridge, both of which I participated in. I felt honored to be a part of Newport’s month of celebrating. What a thrill!
The very next day, October 3, KCBY TV interviewed me for their noon news program for the segment that focuses on locals. It aired on October 6. I talked about the book Crossings. I also talked about how one of our goals was to be a part of the bridge celebrations this year and how Crossings and I met that goal.
In one way or another, we were there for each of the five bridge celebrations!
Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at www.connectflorence.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also available on the coast in bookstores, museums, and gift shops; in Eugene at the airport, the historical museum, and several bookstores; and in Portland at Powell’s and the Oregon Historical Society.
Judy’s PowerPoint Presentations:
November 5, Saturday, 2 p.m.–Visitor Center Theater, Cape Perpetua Visitor Center (south of Yachats)
November 12, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.–Visitor Center Theater, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport (just south of the Yaquina Bay Bridge)
February 19, Sunday 3 p.m.–Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])
Congratulations, Judy! What an amazing few months for you and the Oregon Coast bridges. I’ll bet the old-timers had a hard time accepting that it’d been 75 years. It’s important to remember and celebrate events like these, and you certainly did your part!