Murals and Merle

  • Fri Mar 23rd, 2018 4:02pm
  • Life


As I was driving through downtown Forks a few weeks ago I thought to myself, ‘I should take some photos of the murals on the old Pay and Save Foods building before something happens to them.’ Imagine my surprise when the next time I looked, they were gone!

The next time I saw them was this weekend at the Quillayute Valley Scholarship Auction. They had been taken down by Barry Thomas and donated to the cause. The murals were painted in the late 1980s or early 1990s by Judy Stevens, and depicted old time logging activities.

On Monday, Jerry Leppell said the paintings brought in about $10,000 at the auction. One of the murals was purchased by Forks Timber Museum president Tom Rosmond. When I talked to Rosmond at the auction, he said he would be donating the mural he purchased to the museum.

Speaking of the auction … Jerry Leppell also shared that more than 1,000 items had been auctioned off during the two-day event and they auctioned until almost 10 p.m. Sunday night, but a few items remained. New this year was a PayPal account that was added so former grads and others could make cash donations. Leppell said the 1980s decade gave the most donations.

Also new this year was the Olympic Peninsula Guides Association pre-auction, an online auction that raised more than $10,000 prior to the weekend event.

I read quite often on Facebook, the place all good things are shared — especially from former residents of Forks — that the town is dead or has died. Then something like the QVSA happens, and it just boggles the mind that a dead or “nearly” dead town can come together and raise $141,550 in a weekend.

On Monday, a tired Leppell said, “I am awful proud of everyone.”


Also on Monday Merle Watson stopped by the Forks Forum saying he had a story to share and wasn’t quite sure how to do it … I said, “I can help!”

A few weeks ago Merle, 88 years young, decided he was going to go on a hike to Sol Duc Falls, alone. Plans changed (his wife called their son David) and in the end he went to the Olympic Discovery Trail at Lake Crescent and his son David went along.

They came to the tunnel on the trail and as he came out of the darkness of the tunnel he developed a case of vertigo. Merle said, “You know, there is not a single place to sit down on that trail.”

Merle was having trouble walking.

As David sprinted back to get the car and drive around to the other side of the trail — they were 4 miles in and it was shorter for Merle to keep going — Merle said four very nice ladies came along and could see he was having trouble. They offered him a bottle of water, peanuts and a candy bar, thinking he was doing better they moved along.

But Merle was not doing better and he got dizzy again and went down. A couple came by and then two boys as well. The couple asked if he was okay. Walking further, the couple walked with him for about a quarter of a mile and then his legs gave out. They got him a pillow and blanket.

Next a lady with a dog came along … she happened to be a paramedic. She got Merle another 200 yards to a picnic table and got him comfortable there. Next, a park ranger was on the scene and asked, “Are you David’s dad?” He had met David sprinting back for the car.

Merle said, “The lady with the dog stayed the whole time until I was safe, I didn’t get any names and I wanted say thank you to everyone that helped me.”

“I have been thinking about how much rotten stuff is going on in the world; I just wanted to share this story in the paper,” Merle added.