Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

They are here! My first two mail copies of the Forum have arrived and it was such a blessing. I’m sure that some people would wonder why “such a little newspaper” could cause so much excitement; well, they have and I look forward to the postal delivery person delivering one each week. Why the reaction? I’ll tell you.

I grew up with the Forum. When I was very young I remember visiting the Forum office (where the South North Garden is now) and watching Jim Estell and his wife put the paper together and printing it; Jim setting type and the paper printing on the old press (don’t think it was a Gutenberg Press, but it was awfully old and noisy).

I wasn’t old enough to read but my grandparents would read parts to me, and that brings the second point. When to the University of Washington and then into the Air Force, I still received copies of the Forum from home and it kept me in touch; in the US and overseas.

Point three: When I was separated from the AF, I went to work for the government as a DOD civil servant and lived in Maryland. The Forum kept coming and I would take it to work with me to read as I had lunch. Some of my co-workers caught sight of me reading and inquired as to what was so interesting. They looked at the paper, and with a smile noted the upper left corner of the front page where it was written “Farthest West Newspaper in the United States” (that was 1957).

Additionally, few of the aerographers (Navy weather people) happened to join us and one noted the weekly weather recap for Forks in the upper right corner; the rainfall data really got their attention (they would check weekly to see how the data changed).

What I am getting at is that here were people, who I worked with, from many walks of life, interested in a little weekly paper away from the big city. They got to know the names of Forks people and followed events in town, including Spartans wins and losses. The consensus, without my influence, was that the Forum was the type of paper that they could enjoy. Just “down home” news and not filled with sex, violence, politics, war and opinions.

Being a truly local paper, the meat of the information contained was what was happening in the Greater Forks area — school events, church events, who went where, and who visited who for the most part. As I read it now, it really has not changed that much, nor has Forks for that matter, and that is where the blessing comes in. It is a newspaper about Forks, its people and local happenings. And the readers know the people it’s about. To me it is a welcome bridge to “Home.”

When I left Forks to go to UW in Seattle, I had no idea what was ahead for me. The little city that I left had signs at both city entrances that, among other things, had written “Welcome to Forks, population 856” (city dwellers and not including the surrounding area). And, you know, it really has not changed much, except for more houses and more people, but still not large.

It is where if you live there, you know most of the others that do too; and the paper reflects that. This is contrary to the larger cities, the big cities where many people do not even know their neighbors. That was a point of envy by people I shared the Forum with. I was asked, many times, when I was in Texas, Maryland, Virginia, Hawaii and some overseas points, if Forks was a good area to retire in (of course I would put on my Chamber of Commerce hat and give them a good sales pitch; but never to say anything not true; and I presented both the good sides and other sides) to other people who were used to the big city life all around them).

Sportsmen, hunters and fishermen showed a big interest and some of the older ones said that a nice quiet little town was something they would be looking for come retirement time. Even we are looking for something like that; quiet, convenient and friendly (right now thoughts are about the Forks area, maybe near Port Townsend, or the Auburn area where we would be close to our daughter and the grandsons. In the late 1990s, we lived in Forks, but journeyed to Hawaii so my wife could get an additional degree in education (yes, she’s a teacher) and our daughter was attending high school in Honolulu.

No matter what, when we were in a planning mode, the areas we discussed as possible retirement areas Forks always came into the discussion. I guess, paraphrase an old saying, “You can take the boy out of Forks, but you can’t take Forks out of the boy.” Over the years there have been many people who ask about Forks (or more broadly, “The West End”) but I’ve not thought about a large city (and I’ve lived in a few; Tokyo, Seoul, adjacent to Washington D.C., very near Baltimore, Taipei, Manila, to mention a few.)

So, I want to thank my grandparents for taking me and raising me in Forks, the residents of Forks and the surrounding for teaching me more about compassion, the teachers in the Forks school system that I attended and received a good basic education, to the residents for teaching me about caring and helping people, the U.S. government for moving me around for many years so I could have something to compare Forks with, and, the people of the Forks for not letting things get out of hand by not changing from the little city that I once was a part of.

Please don’t let it change; the “Tree Huggers” didn’t close it down and adversity seems to be a stimulant to the residents as it brings Forks people together to work together to “slap adversity in the face,” (I thought about using the end of another extremity of the anatomy to strike a different part of the body).

Who knows? There is a good chance that one day I’ll be reading the Forum on the day it becomes available. As in Russia, they would say Posmotrim (we’ll just have to wait and see).

Bernard (aka Skip) Judson

Kapolei, HI