Tales From The Willapa, as told by Jake Turnrose

Oysters and Elk



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Oysters and Elk

by Arthur Ruger
copyright (c) 2000
 
Well, I'll tell ya... South Bend boasts about be'in the "Oyster Capital a the World" and to quote a famous westerner from over in the Rockies in Utah, when it comes to oysters, "This is the place, Bub!"
 
Why they GROW em here! They don't just go traipsin out in the Willapa Bay with their little boaties an some sorta quipment ta scoop and snag em offa the bottom of the Bay. Oh no!!
 
They grow em in oyster beds not to fer from the processin plants themselves. An I don't think them oysters is lollygaggin in no "bed an breakfast" -- their doin their jobs and growin, obeyin the oyster farmers like corn and wheat obeys the farmers. An when them oysters is up past pooberty or whatever they naturally git past, they git harvested.
 
Memorial Day around these parts is more'n just honor'n the soldiers and sailors. Here they honor the oysters, callin it the "Oyster Stampede."
 
 I got caught in a oyster stampede once while I was drivin along 101 just this side a South Bend. Them there oysters was a stampedin in full gallop across the highway and there wasn't gonna be no stoppin fer no highway traffic. I slid on ma brakes but was too late and I crunched ten or twenty of the little critters.
 
I hit one direct with my front left tire and you could see that oyster's stunned look when he went squirtin outta his half shell and smacked into the side of the local oil dealer's shed.
 
 The others just kept comin across the highway and bein dareful an challengin me to hit em. Can't do that though cause by whackin oysters you're a harmin the town's source a income and you're more'n likely ta wind up in the slammer fer that than fer be'in drunk and disorderly at one a them taverns in town.
 
And elk? Boy we got em! There's a town smaller'n Bankrupt, Idaho, out on Highway 6 that goes by the name a Frances. The elks must a had some ancestor elk named Frances cause they hang out there almost all winter. One or two folks out there'll tell ya they talk to the elk.
 
There's a road, Elk Prairie Road, that cuts off to the right as you're driving through Frances. That road loops around behind Frances and comes back to Highway 6 on the other side. About half way around on Elk Prairie Road, some feller years ago left a purty white commode along side the road. Musta been his idea of a rest stop like they got on that big freeway east a Pe El.
 
Anyway, that commode is truly white and clean-lookin and the only thing we can figure is that the elk must think it's a salt lick and are keepin it clean without knowin that they're doin it.
 
I heard talk at the tavern in Lebam bout changin the name of that road to "Commode Road" and then to make things square with the elk and with the help of the Frances folks, they'd add a definer-type phrase to the town sign so it says "Welcome ta Frances, where the Elk's speak up and folks listen."
 
Well, that's all I got to say tonight. Me an my little woman are gonna have supper then set up the card table and play a little Combat Scrabble. Til later this is Jake Turnrose sayin so long.

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