Seaside, Oregon… Caught between the Past and the Future

 

A fortune teller had a small shop on the main street in Seaside, Oregon. This dog rested under the table where fortunes were told.

A fortune-teller had a small shop on Broadway Street in Seaside, Oregon. This dog rested on a carpet under the table where futures were foretold. I suspect his future is that he will be well-loved.

There is a certain feel to coastal tourist towns that earned their glory in an earlier era. I’d define it as rundown charm. Shops are crammed full of made-in-China souvenirs. Taffy and ice cream tempt people off of the street. Occasionally, one can hear the unmistakable sound of carousel music as horses and lions and emus and giraffes go around and around to the echoing laughter of generations of children.

Coffee shops have a down-home, utilitarian atmosphere where you can buy a cup of steaming clam chowder, coffee and cherry pie for under ten dollars. The saltines are free. The waitress is likely to have a few thousand miles on her feet. She may even call you honey.

But I am being nostalgic. Such places are a dying breed on the edge of extinction. Boutique shops and upscale restaurants are now the rule. Yesterday’s $7.00 T-shirt has become today’s $200 blouse. Lunch for two can easily cost $50.00. And the ten percent tip (remember it?) is now twenty.

We can thank the yuppies of the 1980’s and 90’s for this. They rolled out of the major cities along the West Coast of America from San Diego to Seattle with money to burn. Sharp entrepreneurs quickly figured out ways to separate them from their cash. Ocean side property was scarfed up and prices skyrocketed. Old buildings were renovated and new buildings built. Everything was impacted. The closer a town was to a major city, the greater the impact.

I am not saying all of this is bad. Things change. I like my designer coffee and handcrafted beer as much as the next person. And I am glad that artists and artisans have profited by being able to sell their work in the upscale shops.

I found a bit of the old and a bit of the new when I visited Seaside, Oregon last fall. Seaside was one of the grand old resort towns, like Santa Cruz in California or Myrtle Beach in North Carolina. It was where you flocked to in the summer if you had money. You can still see the old buildings: now renovated, spruced up and repurposed— to use a modern term. For example, the old courthouse had morphed into a modern brewpub. The single jail cell that once housed Saturday night drunks, now houses kegs of beer. I ate my $12.00 hamburger there and washed it down with a decent porter.

Seaside Brewery in Seaside, Oregon.

The brick drunk tank in Seaside’s old jailhouse now serves as a cooling room for kegs of beer. The beer taps are built directly into the wall. I am not sure about the skulls. They may have been left over from Halloween.

After lunch I walked downtown. Midweek, clouds, and rain meant I had Broadway more or less to myself. A few tourists, locals, and I scurried between store entranceways, trying to stay dry. I admired the old buildings, checked out the local carousel, and stopped off to visit a dog that was lying under a table in a small shop where its owner sat and offered to read my palm. I opted out of fortune-telling but did buy a book on the future at the local bookstore. Watch out for robots.

I was pleased to find a carousel with its horses eager to be ridden. Peggy loves these things. Had she been along, I probably would have been forced to climb on.

I was pleased to find a carousel with its horses eager to be ridden. Peggy loves these things. Had she been along, I probably would have been forced to climb on and ride around with her and the little kids.

A touch of Seaside's glory days can be seen in these buildings along Broadway Street.

A touch of Seaside’s glory days can be seen in these renovated buildings along Broadway Street.

Had I walked downtown before stopping off at the Seaside Brewery, I probably would have eaten at the Pig and Pancake.

Had I walked downtown before stopping off at the Seaside Brewery, I may have eaten at the Pig ‘n Pancake.

This mural was as closes as I got to Seaside's famous beach. It was not a day for sunbathing.

This mural was as closes as I got to Seaside’s famous beach. It was not a day for sunbathing.

The sunshine was of the liquid type. Other tourists, locals and I went searching for awnings that protected us from the rain.

The sunshine was of the liquid type. Other tourists, locals and I went searching for awnings that protected us from the rain.

It was a good day for being inside, though and I always enjoy futzing around in antique shops.

It was a good day for being inside, though, and I always enjoy futzing around in antique shops, where I found this dead pig room divider.

And this Chinese foo dog statue.

And what I believe is  Chinese foo dog statue. (Or maybe it is a lion about to eat a horse).

Another shop that caught my attention featured preserved scorpions and tarantulas.

Another shop that caught my attention featured preserved scorpions and tarantulas. I once caught a scorpion like the fellow on the left outside of my house in Liberia and kept it in a jar for a while. Maybe that is when my former wife first contemplated divorce.

Another symbol of historic coastal resort towns was the Penny Arcade. Although the games and prices have changed, the purpose remains the same: capturing youth. It worked for me as a kid.

Another symbol of historic coastal resort towns was the Penny Arcade. Although the games and prices have changed, the purpose remains the same: capturing youth. It worked for me. I happily mis-spent many hours in such joints playing pinball machines.

Historic street lamps with attached starfish were found along Broadway and seemed an appropriate symbol for Seaside.

Historic street lamps with attached starfish were found all along Broadway. They seemed an appropriate symbol for Seaside and a fitting end for this post. NEXT BLOG: A photo essay on the pregnant deer that has apparently adopted us. Maybe by Wednesday she will have had her fawn, preferably not on our back porch.

 

21 comments on “Seaside, Oregon… Caught between the Past and the Future

  1. Love your musings at the top of the post, especially the mention of Myrtle Beach, a seaside “town” that we now avoid because the air-brush t-shirts have just about taken over. Your pictures of this Seaside make me want to go there, even in the rain. Love the mural, the antiques in the shop that you selected for the post, and even the scorpion. But I would have to agree with the first wife who probably wanted to ring your neck for bringing that infernal thing in the house!

    • Oh, come on, he was safe in a jar. LOL But he was ugly and had a huge stinger. I eventually took him out in the jungle and turned him loose. I think I still have a glass coffee cup somewhere around that I got from myrtle Beach. Don’t know what the appeal of the T-shirts is, but they sure are everywhere… with the same trite phrases. Only the names are changed. -Curt

  2. A $12 burger? My, goodness. Of course, prices over at our boardwalk may be equivalent. I’ve never been there one time, preferring to take my ease in funkier, more run-down places. But I think I’d like Seaside generally, especially on a rainy day. I do like the starfish on the lightpoles. And the colors on the buildings are nice, too.

    • Seaside definitely has a funky (but good) element to it, Linda. I am going to go back with Peggy and do a more thorough exploration. I am afraid the $12 hamburgers are far too common out here on the west coast, especially the ones that are touted as being gourmet. For the most part, I prefer the ones I grill. –Curt

  3. I haven’t been to Seaside in years!! When we were kids we would always hit up Florence/Newport since my parents live outside Eugene, it was just closer. Definitely need to make a return visit one of these days! 🙂

  4. Blaming the yuppies, eh, Curt? Surely, you were on in heart! 🙂 I do remember your story on Seaside last year…but certainly not those suckers cast out from even the local Entomology Convention! How was the food though?

    • I think it was another one of Oregon’s coastal communities, Koji. Although very similar, and I have more. 🙂 The hamburger was so-so for the cost. Make that overcooked, which is a problem with many restaurants today. I understand their concern, food poisoning, but much of that has to do with the quality of the beef. The best hamburger restaurants still seem to be able to give you a medium-rare burger and get away with it. (Can you tell I am a little passionate about this issue?) –Curt

    • Thanks Crystal. What I missed were the towns that are still primarily fishing villages as opposed to tourist centers or hideouts for the wealthy. Again, they are more rare today than they were say 30 years ago, but they still exist and have a distinct personality (and smell). 🙂 –Curt

  5. I love the pig platter room divider. When I was in China I was told, who knows if it’s true, that those common and various looking dog/lion/creatures that often flank the doors are a couple. You saw the female holding her baby and the ones with a ball under the paw are males who really have their paw on a representation of the earth.

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