2002 Highlights: The News from Waldport

My 2002 year-end letter where I talk about small-town life where having a newspaper delivered to your house is major news, and where the best seller in a book store is sometimes a fishing license.

December 2002

Dear Friends and Family,

The big news this year: the Oregonian now delivers to the end of my driveway. That’s pretty major news when you are as far out of town as I am, although it wasn’t major enough news to be included in the Oregonian. Next thing you know Waldport might even get a Starbucks. I think we’re one of the few towns in the U.S. with no franchises whatsoever, not even a McDonalds. All the energy I saved in walking a mile to get the paper no doubt explains the next big bit of news: I completed a Sunday New York Times Crossword puzzle.

That was also the day my computer crashed and the last episode of the X-Files aired. Naturally, I’m still in mourning about the latter.

My parents are really enjoying retirement in Santa Barbara, although Dad did break his arm this year. He fell from a stool while reaching for receipts he needed to fill out his income tax forms. If not for that mishap, something even more miraculous than me getting the Oregonian delivered might have happened–my parents would have filed early.

Peter, my brother, is still somewhere in Asia. When it looked like India might go to war with Pakistan I invited him to come to the U.S. and live with me. He declined. No great surprise in that him moving back to the U.S. would be even more miraculous than my parents filing early.

My book, Holy Rollers: Murder and Madness in Oregon’s Love Cult hit the bookstands in April. No major book tour is in the works (or likely to be unless the screenplay I’m working on actually sells), but my collaborator, Robert Blodgett and I have given a few radio interviews, done readings and had some signings.

Shirley, of Shirley’s of Yachats, insisted we hold our first signing at her shop. For those of you who’ve read the book, Shirley was the girl at Waldport High who in the 1950s stumbled across an article about the 1903 cult and realized its members were some of the most prominent people in the county. Before that no one of her generation here had heard about the murder trials and asylum commitments, and until our book came out, no one here had since dared talked about them. As soon as Shirley learned of Holy Rollers’ publishing date, she ordered 40 copies. My editor at Caxton Press called me and said, “A really eccentric-sounding woman just ordered an awful lot of copies of your book.” Apparently 40 copies of one title are a lot for a store to stock. My publisher wondered whether Shirley’s was even a bookstore and whether they were likely to get paid. One of the more bulging envelopes under Shirley’s counter has the money she collects for selling well-thumbed used paperbacks, so, yes, I suppose you could consider her shop a books store. She does have a cash register, but most of the money seems to wind up in earmarked envelopes, the biggest one being for fishing licenses.

The day of the signing people were lined out the door. It wasn’t so much as there was a mob, as Shirley’s shop is about 10’ X 10’. If she has more than two customers at a time, the rest have to wait outside. Still, in a couple of hours, Shirley’s was sold out of our book and she also sold four fishing licenses and lots of bait. Shirley paid Caxton for her first order and ordered more.

They arrived just in time for Neil, an outraged descendent, to storm in claiming the story was a lie. He made such a scene that she sold all the copies in minutes. Now we joke that we should invite Neil to all signings. Fortunately, Neil is in the minority. Since Holy Rollers’ release we’ve had lots of other descendants say that they are glad to finally know what “the elephant in the living” was all about and to ask for autographed copies. If you want to know what the hullaballoo is about, you can read sample chapters at edmundcreffield.com. If you haven’t seen me in years, click on “about the author” to see a recent photo.

Here’s hoping you have some happy miracles in your life.