By Christi Baron
A few weeks ago I was interviewed by a reporter from Grist magazine. She wanted to get a feel of what Forks was like BT (before Twilight) and AT (after Twilight) so I attempted to help her understand. I shared the following column I wrote in response to a travel writer who called Forks “A festering boil” on the Peninsula.
I wrote the column in May 2008, my victims for the story were my co-workers at Lunsford’s …in 2008 the visitor center had a total of 18,736 visitors stop and in 2009 they had just under 70,000 visitors stop.
Sadly several people in this story are no longer with us.
For those of us who live our lives on the West End we are somewhat of a curiosity to the rest of the county. How can we stand to live here? What is there to do? How do we tolerate the rain? Aren’t all the businesses closed? Personally, I love living here. However, since I have lived here all my life my judgment may be muddied. Too much rain on my brain? My thoughts are clouded and I don’t know any better? So I thought I would ask some “newcomers” just to see why they are here. They have seen the outside world and know what it has to offer. Why have they come and why have they remained?
In 1969, Carrol Lunsford left Oklahoma for a temporary job in Forks at Forks State Bank. He fell in love with the area. When offered a better job in a different community he decided to stay and make his temporary job permanent. He says that 99 percent of the time the rain does not bother him. Carrol estimates that the per capita charitable giving in Forks is one of the highest in the nation.
Don Grafstom grew up in Chicago and in 1972 he moved to the West End. He came for a job at MR Smith Shingle mill in Beaver. He was tired of the rat race and wanted to get away. He says he doesn’t tolerate the rain he loves it and there is a freedom here that can be found nowhere else.
Bill Lewis grew up in Seattle. After graduating from the University of Washington he was hired at the Department of Natural Resources in Forks in 1977. In 1980 Bill considered a promotion to another community but decided to stay and raise his family here. He loves the timber, rivers and green space. He also says we have really good fungus!
Mike Reaves arrived in Forks in 1979. Snowed out on a logging job in Oregon he was going back when the snow melted. I am sure it has melted by now but he is still here.
In 2001 Donna and Monty Burt of El Paso started searching the peninsula trying to decide where they wanted to retire. The friendliness of the people of Forks helped them choose and in 2005 they made their move. They say they are more at home here than they ever were in Texas and there is so much to do they are never bored.
Joann Lawson and Vince McKeoun left Michigan with a couple of stops in between arrived in Forks in 2007. They came for peace and quiet and outdoor activities. JoAnn wishes she would have discovered Forks earlier. Vince, who spent 40 years as a builder, only took days off when it rained. Now living in Forks he calls the rain “sweet drops of rest.”
A lot of factors determine where a person will spend their life. It’s up to each of us to make our own happiness. So you can be miserable in Forks, or just as miserable in Oklahoma, Chicago, Seattle, Texas, Oregon, or Michigan it’s really up to you.
It is true Forks gets a lot of rain, we have some empty buildings downtown, maybe not the nicest architecture. But we do have some of the nicest people. I can’t recall the last time a building gave me a hug or words of encouragement or spent time volunteering. The next time you are in Forks look inside the buildings. That is where you will find the real answer to why we live here.