Left at the gas station and everything is connected

As I said in last week’s Opinion …I get requests for things and I get phone calls …and sometimes it seems to turn out that everything is connected …one thing leads to another …The Wednesday I was out on the Logging and Mill tour I returned to a message on my office phone …It was from a woman named Vickie Woodhouse of Redding, California.

In the message she shared that she was wondering about a man named Earl Kennedy who had been a Forks Mayor …did I know him…was he living and she ended with, “I was left in the Kennedy’s gas station in 1963 when I was 10 years old.” And she left no phone number …

You know this had me wondering! Was she going to call back? I wanted to know more.

So as the week continued with no call from her I got a Facebook message from a man wondering if he had any relatives left in Forks …his grandfather and former Forks resident Marie Rich were siblings Mrs. Rich passed in 1981…well yes he did as a matter of fact I went to school with her grandchildren and she was one of my Good News Club teachers.

Anyway, that connection was made with Mary and Linda and their long-lost relative.

So finally a few days later Vickie called back. She shared she had recently been going through some family items and got to thinking about this event some 61 years ago. I told her sadly Earl had passed. She went on to share the story.

It was August 1963 she and her parents and brother were traveling in the family station wagon from Redding, California to Canada to visit friends. As they came into Forks they needed gas and Vickie said her brother had experienced a bloody nose. They pulled into Kennedy’s Shell station. Everyone else got out of the car for a break and to clean up. “I then noticed that I also had some blood on me too so I got out and headed to the restroom.” When Vickie came out of the restroom …the station wagon and her family …were gone!

She explained that the station wagon was set up with a mattress in the back, “My brother and I took turns riding in the front and our luggage and stuff was between the front seat and the mattress in the back so they thought I was still back there.”

Thankfully the Kennedys were caring and friendly and made little Vickie feel safe as they figured out what to do. “They joked with me that they had adopted children and would love another little girl.” Although at the time Vickie was not in a humorous mood.

As the family continued on their trip Vickie said her mom continued to assume she was asleep until at one point … “My mother kept asking me what I thought of the big trees and the moss and began to think it was strange that I was not answering,” Vickie said.

That is when they finally realized she was not in the car. Vickie ended up spending eight hours with the Kennedys. “For a few years after we sent Christmas cards between the families, then eventually lost contact.” Vickie said that on that trip the family had gone through some sketchy towns and bad-looking gas stations, “If I had to get left it was a nice place to spend eight hours,” Vickie shared.

To this day Vickie said, “Whenever I go anywhere I am in charge of the keys…I am never getting left behind again.”

So after I spoke with Vickie I thought I would look and see if the story made the paper in 1963. This is where one thing connects to another…I looked through the August 1963 editions and nothing and then I could see I was missing the last edition of the month. Then I remembered that Bill Brager had given me some old papers and …yay, there was the missing edition but …still no story about Vickie’s adventure but there to my surprise was a story about Mrs. Rich finding a ring in her garden when she went to plant some flowers.

Grace Fletcher did a story about the ring and came to find out it belonged to Don Quick. He had lost the ring years before, while working on a car with Jim Rich. I scanned the story and sent it to Don’s son. It happened to be his birthday and he said it was the best birthday present ever.

Then looking further I spotted another article by Grace Fletcher about the old house built on the former Ole Nelson homestead. The house, that sat at the end of 5th Avenue, was torn down a month or so ago and I had held off doing a story because I really wanted more information …and there it was!

So thanks to Vickie and her memory and phone call, it led to tying up some loose ends, sharing some fun stuff and everything really is connected in some way.

And another fun fact I discovered, is that Mrs. Rich’s father and her brother helped build the Enchanted Chalet near the Queets River.

So now I really want to read the rest of those 1963 papers!

Christi Baron, Editor