#33–Hardcore bridge aficionados . . .


I have long had a fascination with bridges, and since working on Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges, I’ve become a real bridge aficionado—or as my family and friends would say “totally obsessed!” I did have a friend for dinner the other night and after eating, she made the mistake of asking about one of the bridges and that got me started. I kept finding photos or sections from the book to illustrate what I was saying and before I knew it, it was after 10 p.m. and my friend was fading fast. Upon leaving, she thanked me for dinner and the unexpected discourse on bridges. . . .

Okay, not just a bridge aficionado––maybe a hardcore bridge aficionado. But I’m not alone.

Last Friday while Bob and Dick and I were meeting in Bob’s office at Pacific Publishing, his phone rang. Because he was in a meeting, he let it go to voice mail. But after hearing, “I checked out Crossings from the library and just have to have a copy. This is an absolutely wonderful book. Could I come to Florence and pick it up at the publishing office?” At that point, Bob picked up the phone.

This caller from Reedsport, thrilled to be talking to the publisher, continued to extol the virtues of the book and McCullough bridges. After the call, Dick suggested that I could drop off a copy since I was heading down the coast the next day to sell books. So Bob gave me her number, and a little later I called and left a message.

She didn’t get it, however, before coming to Florence and picking up a copy of the book at the publishing office. So it was the next morning before she returned my call. We spoke for quite awhile—almost an hour. She told me of her passion for McCullough bridges and Crossings. I told her many stories about getting the book ready and of my adventures since. She was positively thrilled to be talking to the author. . . . Gotta say, such adulation kinda made my day too.

I don’t usually know the path of a particular copy of a book, but I do on the one she checked out of the Reedsport Public Library. It’s the same book I dropped off at the Douglas County main branch library, last October 15 when I passed through Roseburg on my way to California to see family and friends. It’s eventual destination after processing was the county library in Reedsport. One of the first people to check it out was our Reedsport caller, and she wasn’t about to return it until she had her own copy.

As it turned out, she wasn’t the only person I talked to that day with a passion for bridges.

After her call, I headed down the coast to see one of my favorite artists. Dutch Mostert lives on the northern edge of Coos Bay across from North Bend with a grand view of the McCullough Memorial Bridge. Years ago I did a profile of him for Oregon Coast magazine and I’ve been a fan ever since. Each year, I attend his open house held the week after Thanksgiving. And each year I enter my name in a raffle for one of his original paintings. This year I won! How cool is that! I still can’t believe it.

I chose from among about 15 watercolors of similar size––all framed ready to hang. I selected one of the boathouse at the end of the road in Charleston. It’s a place of fond memories of when I attended the Shorebird Festival.

Instead of taking my painting and leaving, we started chatting. We discussed his paintings, including ones of bridges and that led to him showing me a book of bridges. It turned out to be one that I use in my presentations: Judith Dupre’s Bridges: A History of the World’s Most Famous and Important Spans.  He showed me some of the bridges in the book he has visited and wants to paint. That led to other bridges he wants to paint, which led back to McCullough bridges, which led to my book and he bought a copy. That led to me showing him some of the book’s bridge pictures and telling the stories behind them. Finally, after nearly two hours, I left. That’s what happens when two hardcore bridge aficionados get together.

That evening, I figured out where to hang my new painting and where to hang two prints I bought at Dutch’s open house the year before and had tucked away. They’re small, but will look great hung next to each other. The subject matter? What else? Bridges—the Siuslaw River Bridge and the McCullough Memorial Bridge.  What can I say?

In blog #10, I mentioned my friend Jim, another hardcore bridge aficionado. Last summer, when he and his wife, Midori, were visiting, we walked out to the middle of the Siuslaw River Bridge touching or closely observing every detail along the way and then we drove between Florence and Yachats, stopping at or driving very slowly through each bridge with me answering a stream of constant questions.

Then there are folks––usually men––at various book events who are absolutely passionate about Crossings because of the bridges and go on and on and on.

And who could forget the almost 1,000 folks that walked across the Yaquina Bay Bridge to celebrate its 75th birthday.

I’ll admit to being a hardcore bridge aficionado, but I’ve got plenty of company.

Note: The list of Oregon Book Award finalists was posted January 9, and Crossings was not among them. Sigh!!


Crossings: McCullough’s Coastal Bridges can be yours for $24.95 plus $3.99 shipping. Order from Pacific Publishing at http://www.connectflorence.com or pacpub@oregonfast.net. 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 presentation with book sales/signing:

February 19, Sunday, 3 p.m.––Port Orford Library, Port Orford (1421 Oregon Street [Hwy 101])


Judy guest on TV show:

March 13, Tuesday, 2:30––The Author’s Forum, a talk show with host Dr. Veronica Esagui, chiropractic physician, author, and public speaker, on Portland area public access television (channel TBA)

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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