I live near a town with two names.
Underlined red type are links.
You know how I always seem to be out there poking around Mojave, Hayfork, or Panamint City? Well, the thought has been slowly forming in my mind, what about Greenwood/Elk? Why do I drive eight hundred miles to gawk at something I know nothing about? Why not stay home and get to know my own place. I guess what really got me to thinking locally instead of driving globally is that sign, you know, the one you pass as you arrive in our fair city, the one that says;
I know "they" got the name wrong, but I got to wondering how far off the population number was, too. So, I decided to figure out how many folks actually live here in Greenwood. It still is Greenwood, you know. Only our Post Office had its name changed to "Elk".
Ah ha! I see arguments arise already. Well, let me press on anyway.
I decided to measure Greenwood/Elk, the "actual" town, although we aren't a town, by the number of hook-ups to the Elk County Water District (there is no Elk County in California but, that is another story) anyway, if you are on the water pipe, your part of the town. If not, well, you live in the burbs or are a ridge dweller or something. Sorry.
Hey, it's my demographic study!
So. According to my research I discovered Greenwood/Elk starts at Joan and Larry Robison's in the North, and ends at the former trailer court, South of town. This is a distance of 2.75 miles. Yes, the pipe goes that far South.
East and West limits?
Well, the Pacific Ocean cuts things off on the West side. To the East, the pipe goes up the Philo/Greenwood Road as far as the Roff Barnett property by the sub station at the foot of the hill. Say, two blocks!
So. What do we actually have?
Well, I count eighty addresses/hook-ups. Nine of these addresses are Bed and Breakfasts establishments. They consist of, starting from the North end of town and heading south;
We have two
We have a Irish
Style Pub called Bridget Dolans
We have an Ocean Kayaking business called
And, if you want to go horse back riding.
We have two churches, the former Methodist Church which is now our Community Church and our Catholic Church which is over 100 years old.
One gas station:
"The Elk Garage" also providing AAA towing.
One grocery store: "The Elk Store".
The "Country Store" (clothes, crafts, and art)
And "The Enchanted Cottage" (assorted gifts, collectibles and used books.
There is the Pacific Telephone and Telegraph sub-station, the former "Mill Office" which is now the "Greenwood State Park Visitor Center" (open only for a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday during "tourist season"), our new "Elk Post Office", and the "Greenwood Elementary School".
We have a combined Community Center/Fire House building and the "Oasis Bar" which, sadly, closed years ago.
Homes and houses?
Okay. Okay. So what is the population?
Seventy nine adults and fourteen children under the age of eighteen.
So the sign should say,
While I was at it I decided to also count dogs, cats and for good measure, vehicles.
Now, the dogs were fairly easy because my dog knows your dog.
Cats? Well, cats are pretty sneaky but my rough count came in at...
The vehicles I counted consist of cars and pick ups, including Charlie Acker's Electric Van, but not bicycles, skateboards, tow trucks, fire trucks, etc.
Finally, after several days of research, I am beginning to feel confident that I have our little town statistically nailed down, but wait, what is this?
While walking up
the Philo/Greenwood road, looking for cats and dogs and writing down
house numbers, I noticed that the Kennedy, Orchard, and Benoit houses
have address numbers in the 39000 range. The rest of the houses on
both sides of the road, and on up to the sub station, are numbered in
the 35000 range. That means those three homes are FOUR miles West of
their neighbors! Either that or the rest of the town is four miles
East of them!
Later, I discover that Mary Muto is pregnant, Doug Blaine and Patty Brady are moving away, Mr. Huckaby has borrowed a car from Gene in Mendocino, and Rocky, Laurie Graham's dog was killed by a log truck.
Confidence is no longer high. My data base is starting to crumble. I am beginning to get confused. I think I will go visit,
Things should be more simple there.
Note: Tony Miksak pointed out that these musings of mine occurred last century!!
I guess I need to take another walk!
I have some friends from Seattle showing up tomorrow. I will take some time off and show them around this quiet little town by the sea.
"That's our gas station. Here is one of our three restaurants. Over there is the Elk Store. That's the Post Office."
"Yep, you're right, we only have one stop sign, no stop lights."
"Oh! How cute."
If they only knew.
Yes, it's cute
and beautiful, but the people in this town and up in the hills are the
real secret to what makes Greenwood/Elk so special and there is no way
to find that out on a four day vacation. You have to live it a while;
You have to serve on the Community Center Board, become a volunteer fireman, work for a year in the Elk Store; wrestle with L.P. (Louisiana Pacific Lumber Company, now the Mendocino Redwood Company) over logging in the watershed, be a member of the Greenwood Civic Club, help with Great Day in Elk, the Pepper Martin baseball extravaganza, and so on. That is the only way to find out what is really special about this place and the people that live here.
Ah, well, enough. You already know this stuff.
I'm going down to the beach to wash my dog.
What a great time of year this is and what a special place to live. The season of outdoor barbecues, fish fries, and abalone feeds are upon us.
Out of town folks rush through our town, heading for Mendocino to find a place to eat, meanwhile, just up the hill, down some wooded lane, us "locals" are pounding on an abalone, dipping fresh caught mussels into butter and garlic, munching homemade bread and enjoying fresh grown salad from the garden. Some locally harvested wine or herb helps pass the time while waiting for the salmon on the barbecue to get, "just right".
How many people get to listen to friends play a stand up bass, a homemade Hurtygurty, and a concertina while stretched out on a blanket in a meadow? Later in the evening by the glow of the fire, we dance for hours in the moon light to African drums.
It is happening once again, all over the place, and all for the price of potluck.
I read in Ron Guenther's column, in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, that "the first small town to be targeted for the Mendocino Village promotional treatment will be "Elk".
According to real estate agent Sean Sprague, "Locals try to keep a low profile regarding their town but unfortunately for them, the word is out; Elk is Great!" In other words, move over you country bumpkins trying to save your community from us predatory greed heads, the real estate development steamroller is headed your way..."
My dog and I took a walk to see what was up. First we headed towards the cemetery to sort of check out the northern sector. All seemed to be quiet, everyone resting peacefully. Down in the south end of town we noticed a solitary female skinny dipper enjoying the ocean surf and deserted beach. My dog didn't pay her any attention and I tried to do the same.
Finally we walked back into the heart of town and I noticed that something was different. Rosie Acker had hung up new curtains.
I'll keep checking for further developments.
One of the interesting things about living at this latitude, here on the coast, is the way the seasons change so slowly. At least that is the way it seems to me. During the summer I forget what the rain is like. During the fog I forget how clear the horizon can be. During the clear days I forget how strong the wind can blow and when the wind is blowing I think it will never stop.
I was raised in Nebraska. There the seasons were well defined. Everything arrived with a bang. In the fall the trees turned red overnight and then the leaves fell off. I would wake one morning to snow piling up and the wind blowing it into drifts. Spring would arrive one day and the temperature would soar and cause the river to flood. Summer was summer, lightning bugs, dust devils, hot and dry.
I remember going out to do the chores one winter and having to dig the hand pump out of the snow drift on the south side of the barn, then taking the ax and busting up the ice in the cow tank and tossing it off to the side before adding water.
One spring we drove to a town west of us and watched house trailers float down the river. Another time we drove north of town a few miles and looked at the damage a tornado had done. I remember one house in particular, all that was left was the foundation and the sub-floor with the toilet and hot water tank still sitting there. Other than that there wasn't a stick of wood, piece of furniture, or roofing anywhere on the property. Everything was gone. With seasons like that, I definitely remember them, but here?
Well, winter is coming but when? The rain is coming but will it be enough? When did the California Poppies disappear? Shouldn't the pelicans be gone by now? I saw some whales the other day but they were heading north. Folks are coming into the Elk Garage to buy roll roofing and windshield wiper blades instead of lawn sprinklers and house paint. The season must be changing.
GREAT DAY IN ELK
If you are passing
through this area let me point out that our town does have an annual
party. It is usually, almost, always the weekend after Labor Day. Some
If any of the above has inspired you to read more about our wee village you might check out:
These are the "weakly" columns I wrote for our local newspaper.
For more about Greenwood/Elk and surrounds, check out: