Sunday, April 11, 2010

Techno geek - NOT!

Well I must have hit the delete button and sent one of my posts off into cyber-neverland. The "bear saga" seems to have disappeared so here it is again.

The Island's weekly newspaper, the "Bainbridge Island Review", was pretty folksy and prided itself on keeping abreast of every event - from birthing kittens to local politics. High school sports, being of serious importance in such a tiny locale, had a page of their own. The Japanese families after they were sent off to camp, were often reported about. Some of the headlines read, "Island Japanese Cheerful (in Manzanar)", "Island Japanese Voted 'Best Sportsmen' in Manzanar", "Los Angeles Japanese regard Island Japanese as "stuck up" and too Americanized", "High school sends text books to Manzanar students so they can graduate from high school", "Two year old boy has chicken pox in Manzanar." (This boy in his teen years was my school mate and was class president several times.)

While the proposed building of a housing project was loudly denegrated in the newspaper forum, another long-running event held its own as front page news. In February 1943, the first of "Marauding Bear" articles appeared. The stories grew, a posse was formed - although its members were not available til the end of deer-hunting season, a big game hunter was hired, traps were set, mothers' fears rose to a fever pitch. One week the bear was pronounced dead even though no carcass was found; only to be resurrected the next week when some poor dog had to have stitches after supposedly being bear-clawed. The headline read, "How Dead Is the Bear?" Major Hopkins, described as a "noted nimrod extolled by the State", accompanied the State Game Warden as they stalked the wily beast. They too were thwarted in their efforts. Then, to add to the ridicule of the mighty hunters, a headline suggested the services of an 86 year old farmer be sought because he had treed a bear and shot it dead - the guy was simply protecting his farm animals. The droll reports went on for months.

"No New Killings - Experts Wonder If Bear Hibernating."
"Killer Bear Has Been Here Four Years Declares Hunter, Major Hopkins."
"Posse Fails to Kill Bear - Traps Coming."
"Islanders Worry Traps Will Trap Dogs."
"Honey Bait May Lure Bear-Trap Setting Report Said."
"Very Dead, Sleeping, or Gone Home; Bear Is Quiet as Major Makes Trap."
Illustrations of various animal footprints were published to assure every Islander would be able to decipher a bear track from other tracks. The drawings included a bear's track walking, running, and compared track sizes. The paper diligently carried on with the bear stories.

"Bear Cub Sighted At Crystal Springs by Mrs. Williamson."
"Mrs. Williamson excitedly reported she saw the cub 'between the Prentiss and Berg places.' She and Mr. Williamson thought they saw tracks and attempted to follow them."

"Wardens, Hounds Fail To Stay Island's Wary Bears; Hunter Baits Two Traps." (Note how the bear numbers increased.)
"Bear Sighted As Big Game Hunter Quits Chase."
"Bear's Growl Frightens Five Youths." As the boys were building a fort or some other boy thing, they swore they heard the bear and ran away as fast as they could.
"Dog Clawed - How Dead Is Bear?"
"86 Year Old Kingston Man Shows How To Kill A Bear Dead!"

After a few weeks of bear silence;
"Island Bear Walks Again," when a boy sighted the beast in a field as he cycled by. He sped to the nearest house to report the danger.

April 1944, the last headline, "Killer Bear Dead, Hopins." marked the end of the saga that had begun more than a year earlier. The actual bear carcass was never reported as found. But some Seattle wise acres must have been loud in their laughter and scorn at the bimbo Islanders. An Island poet, Mrs. Lottie Jane Logg, set up defense poetically.

"If you've spent the week a listenin'
To the noise of trains a whistlin'
And to cars and buses rumblin'
To the many folks a grumblin'
'Bout a million things or more
Til just listenin' is a bore,
Then you'll long for peace and quiet
And a bit of nature's diet
So take a Black Ball ferry at the foot of Madison Street
And go to Bainbridge Island where the silence is complete.
If you've learned to ride the buses in the latest sardine style,
Had your feet all trampled til you cannot walk a mile
Then I know you must be wishin'
For a place to go a fishin'
Where there's room to stretch and eat
And a place to put your feet
And if you need a place for nappin'
Where you can hear the tide a lappin'
In the shadow of the Mountain capped with snow,
Then, my friend, to Bainbridge Island you must go.
If you've spent the week a breathin'
Air that's full of cough and sneezin'
And you've spent the week a breathin'
Many things you can't be tellin'
Then you'll need to spend a day
Where the birds all love to play
Where the air is sweet and clean
And the mountains can be seen
So take a trip and spend a while
On our lovely Bainbridge Isle."

So there too, you mainlanders you!

A few more wild animal headline came along in future months - like - "Cougar Tracks Found On Beach." followed the next week with, "Peripatetic Cougars On Prowl Again." Look out for the beasty beasts! Nothing could escape news-worthiness.

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