Apr 232024

Here is another blog post from my days publishing small town newspapers.

I started my first newspaper when I was in my mid-20s, in Grays Harbor, Washington. The harbor is the largest natural deepwater port on the Pacific Coast north of San Francisco, and has been an important shipping center since the days of the earliest settlement.

Located at the base of the wild and beautiful Olympic Peninsula, the area is a sportsman’s paradise like no other on earth. The dense forests are home to elk, deer, black bear, mountain lions, and many believe the legendary Bigfoot lives there, too. The rivers offer fishing for everything from trout to steelhead salmon, or you can drive out to the beach and surf fish or walk out on a jetty to wet a line. If you like shellfish, you can dig for razorback clams during the open season, drop a crab trap off a dock and haul up Dungeness crab, or charter a boat out of Westport, on the south entrance to the harbor, and go deep sea fishing. When I lived there, Westport billed itself as the Salmon Capital of the World due to the many charter boats that operated from there, as well as commercial fishing boats.

I had a friend who operated a very successful taxidermy shop in Grays Harbor and was well known to sportsmen throughout the Pacific Northwest. I was always amazed at the number of people who caught a huge salmon and brought it in to be mounted and didn’t want the meat. All they cared about was a trophy to hang on their wall. Not wanting to see all of that meat go to waste, my buddy tried donating it to local food banks, but due to some glitch in the law, they could not accept it. So if you were his friend, you could expect your freezer to be well stocked with salmon steaks and salmon fillets, and you always had a good supply of smoked salmon. By the way, if you are ever friends with a taxidermist, don’t ask when he hands you a piece of meat and says, “Here, eat this.” Salmon were not the only animals that came through the shop!

One day my friend got a call from a commercial fishing boat that had netted a seventeen-foot great white shark offshore. They wanted it mounted and contacted him. Now, just how in the hell do you move a fish that big? I borrowed a big flatbed truck from another friend, and we went to pick up the shark. It took a forklift in the middle and several men on each end to get it onto the truck. Just seeing that critter was enough to keep me out of the water for a year!

Driving home with the shark in the back of the truck, we stopped for fuel. While we were filling the truck’s tank, the old gentleman working at the station asked where we caught that creature we had strapped down in the back of the truck. We told him it came out of a small creek a mile or so south of there. His jaw dropped open and his eyes became almost as big as saucers. “My grandkids wade in that creek all the time,” he said. “But they ain’t gonna do it anymore. No, sir, no more!”

Sometimes I feel bad for those poor kids who were probably never allowed back in their favorite creek. And I’m sure that old-timer got razzed by his pals about his wild story since the creek was no more than a foot or two deep. But at the time, my friend and I laughed all the way back to his shop.

And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.

Thought For The Day – Apparently responding to a wedding RSVP with “Maybe next time” isn’t a proper response. Who knew?

Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  One Response to “Newspaper Days – Jaws”

  1. Thanks for sharing – love to hear stories about the PNW as we lived in Wa state on the west side for 30+ years.

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