Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


October 12, 2023

GRV's Middle School track team at Ilwaco last week has Bowen Burkhalter in front looking outward. Courtesy photo.

What a treat this morning (Monday) to wash dishes while listening to the River Writers interview on the radio. Cathlamet's Dayle Olson interviewed Skamokawa writer, Irene Martin, on KMUN, Astoria's public radio station. Irene is a prominent historian of our county, so it was great to hear her voice, and especially her thoughts on the future of salmon.

I need to apologize to all my west county folks because I misspelled Salme hill in this column last week. I cannot imagine how many times I have driven over Salme hill and looked at the sign, but my memory eludes me sometimes and I suddenly thought the word ended in an "i" so maybe I was just regressing back to Italian? I do know better, my friends.

Last week's paper also included an obituary for Donna Burns, wife of Leroy Burns of Cathlamet. Reading it made me very sad and has been on my mind for several days. When I moved here twenty years ago, Leroy was very welcoming, as was Donna. I am very sorry, Leroy, for your loss. She was a lovely woman and I know this is a loss for you and your family. God bless you.

We have some new events I will put in the calendar, but I can give you more information here. Gene Quillhaugh will be providing his own "easy listening" music at Rosburg Hall on November 18 at 6:30 p.m. Hosted by the American Legion and the Rosburg Community Club, there will be coffee and desserts for sale, too. This event will be free so don't forget to put it on your calendar. Another new event: FAFF's Christmas Bazaar will be on December 2 from 9-2 p.m. If you'd like to be a vendor, you can contact them online at:

Photo of the Week: The Naselle GRValley School sports teams have been doing great. The high school football team has won every game, and the volleyball team is, as usual, doing great. The cross-country teams have been doing well. I went to watch the middle school boys run last week in Ilwaco and was glad to spot this photo of them on facebook. My friend, Bowen Burkhalter is in front in this one with the boys' middle school team. Participating in cross country gets students in shape for basketball, so it's great to see so many students giving it a try.

A few days ago, I pulled out one of Ruth Busse Allingham's books, The Way It Was on Salmon Creek and Deep River. The chapter on Signe Wirkkala Ellsworth and Elna Wirkkala Browning explained why there are so many Wirkkala names in the phone book. Here is the opening section from Signe: "Matt and Elizabeth Ketola were our grandparents on our father's side. They came here from Kaustinen, Finland. Grandma and Grandpa were first and then my dad came. Father's name was Henry Ketola. When he came to this country he took the name of Wirkkala. Our mother's maiden name Martha Juselius. She was born in Finland, too. Mother and Father were married in Astoria and they had eleven children. Auni was the first one, then May, Signe (me), Willard, Elna, Lily, Leslie and Lester (twins), Melvin, Richard, Arnold and Lorraine.

I was born in 1915 on March 22. The youngest child in our family was born in Astoria and the oldest one was born in Astoria. But I think all the rest of the children were born at home." From Elna: "I was born in 1918 in Naselle. Our parents lived in Naselle at the time while Dad was working in Knappton. Then they moved to Deep River. We lived there on Wirkkala Road. Our neighbors were the Johnsons and Koskis. Mansons were across the river. The railroad tracks were a long ways away down there by Pentti's Pool Hall and the hotel." Signe: "We had a little farm in Deep River. I think Dad had about 60 acres of land. We had to milk cows in the morning before school and in the evening when Mother didn't get a chance or if Dad was working out. I used to clean the barn. My brother was supposed to clean the barn and he had me clean it for a penny a day. I don't know if I ever got paid (laughs). Us kids helped with the housework. Because there was so many of us, once in awhile we'd have to skip school and spend a day at home to help Mother. We did dishes as soon as we were able to stand up to the sink. Saturday was a busy day to clean the whole house, woodwork and all. Mother always had a clean house. She washed clothes on Monday and ironed on Tuesday. Every other day she baked about 10 loaves of bread. I didn't go to high school. Dad said us girls didn't need a high school education 'cause we'd know how to wash diapers anyway (laughs). I wanted to go, but we probably couldn't afford it."

Calendar of Events:

Mondays/Wednesdays: Balance Class at Naselle Community Center 2-3.

Tuesdays: Naselle Lutheran Church sponsors morning quilters and knitters in afternoons.

Second Tuesday: Johnson Park Board meeting at 10.

Second Tuesday: American Legion meets at 6 at Rosburg Hall.

Third Tuesday: Naselle Grays River School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

Wednesdays: AA meeting at the Grays River Grange at noon.

Wednesdays: Play Group for little ones at the Naselle Library from 10:30 to 11:30.

Second Wednesday of the month: Grays River Flood Control District meets at Fire Hall across from Duffy's at 5:30. Also available by Zoom.

First and third Wednesdays in October: Senior Lunch at Rosburg Hall at noon. Next one on 18th.

Thursdays: CAP Senior Lunches are located at Rosburg Hall at noon on Thursdays.

October 14: Bingo at Rosburg Hall at 6.

October 17: Naselle GRV School Board meets at 6:30 in school library.

October 28: Annual Christmas Bazaar at Rosburg Hall supporting Rosburg Community Club.

October 28: Halloween Celebration at Naselle Community Center. More info coming.

November 4: Appelo Archives' Harvest Auction and Dinner at Rosburg Hall at 5.

November 5: Krist Novoselic and Jennifer Goodenburger at 4 at Naselle Community Center.

November 11-12 and 18-19: FAFF Tapestry Show at Naselle Community Center.

December 2: FAFF Christmas Bazaar from 9-2. Vendors contact:

December 3: FAFF Christmas program at Deep River Church at 1.

December 17: Lighted Christmas Parade at 4:30 along Knappton Road in Naselle.

Word for the Week: Encouragement.


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