Cohassett Beach Chronicles
Lucy Hart, Klancy de Nevers, and Kathy Hogan
In 1940, the Grays Harbor Post in Aberdeen, Washington, introduced its readers to "The Kitchen Critic," a new column chronicling life in nearby Cohassett Beach. Within a year the U.S. was at war, and columnist Kathy Hogan's weekly dispatches turned to soldiers, rationing, and the barbed wire that lined the sand dunes around her weathered cottage.
50 years later, Kathy Hogan's writings provide a window onto how one Pacific Northwest community responded to World War II. Cohassett Beach Chronicles, a collection of Hogan's columns from the war years, offers a remarkable social history of the war at home.
The attack on Pearl Harbor brought U.S. troops to Cohassett Beach and to towns up and down the West Coast. With wit and perception, Hogan writes of civilians valiantly coping with this friendly occupation and wartime scarcity. Her neighbors — loggers, commercial fishermen, Finnish cranberry farmers — learn to live with blackouts, blimps, and a ban on beachcombing. Hogan's weekly descriptions of life on the home front capture America's wartime mood. Together, her columns document the war's tremendous impact at home, from the internment of Japanese Americans and the spread of government regulations to the changing role of women. They also reveal that in spite of the war effort life, in many ways, continued as it always had. There was still time to pick blackberries, gossip at the local tavern, and attend the occasional Friday night dance.
As children, the editors spent summers in the Cohassett Beach cottages that still, in the late 1940s, bore scars of the Army's occupation.
About the author
Lucy Hart is a writer and artist in Seattle.
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Klancy de Nevers, the dauthter of Kearny Clark, is a writer living in Salt Lake City. Her most recent book is The Colonel and the Pacifist (University of Utah Press, 2004).
Read more about this author
Kathy Hogan penned a regular column called “The Kitchen Critic” in the 1940s for the Grays Harbor Post in Aberdeen, Washington.
Read more about this author
Map: Location of Cohassett Beach
Map: Cohassett Beach During World War II
|December 27||A Wreath in the Window|
|January 3||Soldiers at Dinner|
|January 10||Civilian Defense Meetings|
|January 17||Hysterics — Beans|
|January 31||Dogs — Wildcats — Wolves|
|February 14||Men — Mothers — Menus|
|February 21||Travel — Trousseau — Team Work|
|February 28||American Tragedy|
|March 7||Fun — Fear — Food|
|March 14||Civilian Sorrows|
|March 21||Cats as Cats Can|
|March 28||National Emergencies|
|April 4||Boys — Billets — Baths|
|April 11||The Mechanized Army|
|April 18||Health — Hollers|
|May 2||Figures — Farmers — Flyers|
|May 16||Shapes — Shifts|
|May 23||Business — Art — War|
|May 30||Labor — Education|
|June 6||Literature — Agriculture — Sports|
|June 13||Labor — Industry — Science|
|June 20||Sinks — Sonnets|
|June 27||Sugar Shenanigans — Shadows|
|July 4||Cranberries — Clams|
|July 18||Catching — Cleaning — Cooking|
|July 25||Dishes — Drains — Diplomacy|
|August 1||The Vanishing Victuals|
|August 15||Ducks — Donations — Dogs|
|August 22||Houses — Hawks — Harvest|
|August 29||Penalties — Parlors — Products|
|September 5||The Kalaloch Cow|
|September 12||Comings and Goings|
|September 19||Traveling — Tinned Foods — Itinerants|
|September 26||Penalties — Parlors — Products|
|October 3||Animal Story|
|October 10||War — Art — Agriculture|
|October 17||Education — Sanitation — Astronomy|
|October 24||October Days and Nights|
|October 31||Sailor's Return|
|November 14||Pete's Progress|
|November 28||Country Life|
|December 12||Ways and Means|
|December 26||Every Man for Himself|
|January 9||Turn of the Year|
|January 16||Frosty Weather|
|January 23||Mutiny in the Pantry|
|January 30||What's News?|
|February 7||Wives and Mothers|
|April 10||Ration Pains|
|April 17||City Life|
|May 1||Women at Work|
|May 8||Mop Psychology|
|May 15||Coming Up the Hard Way|
|May 22||Local Geography|
|May 29||Making the Most of Things|
|June 5||How We're Doing|
|June 12||Happy Combinations|
|June 19||Fighting Words|
|June 26||Peace Talk|
|July 3||Tooling with Food|
|July 10||Joe Takes Time Out|
|July 17||Changing Times|
|July 24||Other Ways Than Ours|
|August 7||Defending Democracy|
|August 21||Where to, Utopia?|
|August 28||Chopping Wood|
|September 4||Sea Changes|
|September 11||Harvest Moon|
|September 18||Harvest Moon|
|September 25||Luncheon Party|
|October 2||Men Must Work|
|October 16||An Open and Shut Case|
|October 30||Big Game|
|November 13||What Every Woman Knows|
|November 27||Polish the Kettle|
|December 4||Classified Funnies|
|December 11||The Next Best Thing|
|December 18||Blundering Through|
|January 1||Changing times|
|January 22||All Quiet|
|January 29||Various Dinners|
|February 5||House and Garden|
|February 12||— and Pursuit of Happiness|
|February 19||Local Gossip|
|February 26||We, the People|
|March 4||Things to Think About|
|March 11||Bonfires — Dogs|
|March 18||Home on the Range|
|March 25||The Mayor's Parlor|
|April 1||To Bee or Not to Bee|
|April 8||Crime in the Country|
|April 15||Alone — by the Telephone|
|May 6||Wild Life|
|May 20||Man vs. Nature|
|May 27||What Every Sheriff Knows|
|June 3||Live and Let Live|
|June 10||Business as usual|
|June 17||Down on the Farm|
|June 24||June… on the Dunes|
|July 1||Under Dog|
|July 8||Natural History|
|July 29||Crop Failure|
|August 12||Time & Tide|
|August 19||Rewards of Toil|
|August 26||Things to Come|
|September 2||How to Write a Column|
|September 9||The Ghost Ship|
|September 16||More Mysteries|
|October 7||Getting Ahead in the World|
|October 21||Good Hunting|
|October 28||Taken for a Ride|
|November 4||Buck Fever|
|November 11||Turn of the Year|
|November 18||Beach Business|
|November 25||Club Night|
|December 2||Business as Usual|
|December 9||Local Improvement|
|December 16||Night Life|
|December 30||The "Schoolhouse"|
|January 6||Music in the Making|
|January 13||Written in Sand|
|January 20||The Pipe Dream|
|January 27||Private Lives|
|February 3||Making the Best of Things|
|February 17||For Better or For Worse|
|February 24||The Care and Feeding of Insects|
|March 3||Our Lost Battalion|
|March 10||Lights to Literature|
|March 17||Down to the Sea|
|March 24||Riding out a Gale|
|March 31||Man vs. Nature|
|April 21||Journey's End|
|April 28||Work for a Living|
|May 5||How to Build a Good Hot Coal Fire|
|May 12||May Days|
|May 19||One Man's Business|
|May 26||News about Neighbors|
|June 2||The Late Mr. Holmes|
|June 16||June on the Dunes|
|June 23||Getting Ahead of the World|
|June 30||Natural History|
|July 7||Time Marches On…|
|July 14||Professional People|
|July 21||Keeping in Touch with the World|
|July 28||Sea Gardens|
|August 11||Applied Science|
|August 18||Modern Museum|
Washington Geographical Names
Map: Grays Harbor Area ca. 1941
Annotated Select Bibliography
After three failed marriages, 50-year-old Kathy Hogan was banished by her father to live at Cohassett Beach on the Washington coast. She lived frugally in a small cottage, cultivating her garden and writing for a weekly newspaper. With World War II as a backdrop, Hogan turned everyday incidents into entertaining articles for a column called "The Kitchen Critic," published weekly in Aberdeen's Grays Harbor Post.
In this collection of newspaper columns from December 1941 to August 1945, Hogan writes about the home front — sugar shortages, rationing, civil defense meetings, President and Eleanor Roosevelt, victory gardens, her neighbors' fear of being invaded, the Japanese, the soldiers stationed on the beach, and fishermen and cranberry growers.
This introduction provides a context for the columns. including a description of Grays Harbor and its economy, a brief history of World War II and home front activities, especially in the Pacific Northwest, and a brief biographical sketch of Kathy Hogan.
Washington's coast consists of sandy beaches, rocky headlands, and three harbors which can accommodate large ships. Grays Harbor was discovered in 1792 by sea captain Robert Gray, the first American to circumnavigate the world. The harbor, which borders the south slopes of the Olympic Peninsula, was at that time surrounded by dense forests of enormous evergreens. Early explorers complained about storms, steady rains, and overcast skies — a perfect place for growing trees and for cool salmon-spawning streams.
The land surrounding Grays Harbor was the scene of one of the last and most efficient harvest of virgin forest in the country. In the 64 years prior to World War II, aided by steam engines, the county's forests yielded more than 31 billion board feet of lumber, an amount equal to lumber production in the entire U.S. in 1940. The towns of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Cosmopolis boasted sawmills, plywood factories, and docks filled to capacity with logs and lumber of Douglas fir, Western red cedar and spruce.
Lumber production in Grays Harbor area peaked in 1926. The timberline had moved up the rivers into steeper terrain, but trees were still being cut down as if the supply was unlimited. Old growth dwindled. By 1940 the boom was over and there began an era of careful timber management and tree farming (an idea originated on Grays Harbor). The lumbering operations were transformed into the "forest products industry," which produced chemicals, plywood, pulp, paper, furniture, and veneer products in addition to logs and lumber. At the war's end Grays harbor was one of the largest producers in the U.S. of wooden doors, shingles, and lath.
The Grays Harbor Post
The Grays Harbor Post was founded in 1904 as a weekly newspaper by a "curmudgeon… with a querulous pen, all set to cuddle up to the trade unions and needle the timber barons," J.W. Clark.1 A carpenter and unionist, Clark had come to the rough new mill town of Aberdeen from South Dakota. He wrote unflattering stories about mill operators he disliked and featured news and editorials sympathetic to the unions. His son, John W. Clark II, took over the publication in 1935 and continued until he was called back into the marine reserve in 1940. The next son, Q. Kearny Clark, father of co-editor Klancy Clark de Nevers, carried on the publishing tradition until the paper closed in 1961.
One day in 1940, lawyer John C. Hogan suggested to friend Kearny Clark that his daughter, Kathy Hogan, could write entertaining stories for the newspaper. Kearny agreed, and Kathy Hogan began writing a weekly feature column, "The Kitchen Critic," from her quiet cottage as talk of war swirled the globe.
Saturday, December 30, 1944
The Grays Harbor Post
The Kitchen Critic
Set a building down in cow clipped pasture land, give it a background of stretching marsh and misty bay, place a couple of tall, sky swishing spruce trees in the middle distance and a sprinkling of munching cows in the lee of the white sand dunes which tumble in from the north. And, if your building is one basement and two stories high, with a tower, and made of wind grayed clapboards with a faded red roof, a double staircase and a general air of having been dreamed up in the Nineties and forgotten these many years, why — well, then your have our schoolhouse. all out of scale with the little white houses and the bleached slab sided cottages of the village across the way, it looms in perpetual elegance above the plain, and recalls, if you want to let yourself go in for that sort of thing, the day when the town was a resort and not a fishing village; when a great curlicued veranda-ed hotel kept it company; when the stern wheeled steamers dumped their passengers into waiting horse-drawn stages at the end of the long dock, from whence they were whisked away to Lowery's Hotel or Mrs. King's boarding house where good clam chowder was the order of the day and where picture post cards could be purchased showing various scenes — the town's fine new schoolhouse, among others — all with the identical caption — "At the Seashore
A new, modern, one storied schoolhouse stands at the other end of the town, and the old building hasn't seen a boy or girl for years. Nevertheless, it remains the important building of the town. It took a little time to get on to the state of things. I was sitting in the kitchen of the wife of my fisherman friend along about suppertime one evening when she shoved the potatotes back on the stove and said, with what I couldn't help but feel was a touch of envy, "He's going to be late again, I guess. Probably sitting over there at the schoolhouse with his long Norwegian legs curled around a stool."
When I wanted to know what he would be doing at the schoolhouse at that hour she said, drinking beer, of course. What did anyone do at the schoolhouse? And she went on to tell me that once let a norwegian get his long legs curled around a bar stool at the schoolhouse and nothing could pry him loose. Not even salt herring and boiled potatotes for supper.
So that's how I learned about the schoolhouse. There's a beer hall in the basement. It is the town club. If, in the afternoon, you want to get a new crochet pattern from a neighbor and she isn't home you'll' find her at the schoolhouse. Clicking her needles, probably, and sipping a modest glass. At night the place blazes with light, and along, the bar the white capped fishermen sit through the hours, while in the cavernous rear basement grotto the polka blares from the music box and young and old fling their heels with gusto. Father and son are there; mother and daughter. About the walls a crew, fresh off a big shark boat from the Behring sea, stand watchfully, taking things in. They were knitted watch caps, and their eyes are dark in their unshaven faces. One wears a gold ear ring. They bring with them a felling for foreigners. There is Portuguese blood here. And Indian. And a dark conglomerate brew distilled from heaven what chance landings in a hundred years of Pacific landings. Now they stand watching the pretty Scandinavian girls dance the polka. They do not drink beer.
Above the din and brightness of the basement beer hall the old schoolhouse stands with its sightless empty windows. Every two minutes the beam of the light house swings about and brushes warmly across the faded red roof and the tower. Then the stars prick through the empty windows again, and the sound of the sea echoes from the old hollow structure. Down int the basement my fisherman friend unwinds his long Norwegian legs from the stool, adjusts his white peaked cotton cap in the back bar mirror, looks himself steadily in the eye and runs over in his mind his homecoming speech which is something about why in hell isn't dinner on the table when a man gets home from the sea
Setting the Stage: World War II Before Pearl Harbor
World War II began in Europe in September 1939, but seemed far away for most Americans until German military victories in the spring and summer of 1940 removed much of the complacency in the U.S.
Hitler and the Nazis rose to power in Germany in the 1930s; Germany and Italy — also ruled by a fascist government — rearmed in spite of earlier peace treaties, and developed modern war machines that threatened their neighbors. Hitler annexed the Rhineland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and then began war in earnest. In September 1939 the German "blitzkrieg" (lightning warfare) defeated Poland in three weeks, invaded Finland, and, in early 1940, captured Denmark and Norway. The Germans' innovative use of armor, air support, speed and mobility then defeated the combined French-Belgian-English army in six weeks. France surrendered in June. England survived the Battle of Britain (the German Luftwaffe's air attack in the fall of 1940), but remained in serious danger of defeat as well. The Americans, though still bystanders, shipped tons of Lend-Lease aid to Britain through the submarine-infested waters of the North Atlantic in 1941. Hitler's June 1941 invasion of Germany's former ally, Russia, had stalled as winter descended; his troops were forced to pull back from Moscow and along the southern Russian front. Nevertheless, by the end of 1941, German armies occupied most of Europe and parts on North America.
Isolationist sentiment was strong in the U. S. prior to Pearl Harbor and was a theme in Roosevelt's 1940 presidential race against Wendell Willkie, although both Willkie and Roosevelt believed that America's participation in the European war was inevitable. Roosevelt persuaded Congress to approve the Lend-lease program, but only after they added restrictions on the president's powers.
Hostilities in the Far East had begun in 1937 when the Japanese invaded China. In 1941, the Japanese were fighting in both China and Northern Indochina. Journalists, missionaries, and the government helped to orchestrate sympathy for China and antagonism toward Japan. Diplomatic relations between the Japanese and the U.S. were strained because of the American embargo in August 1941 on war material, scrap metal, and petroleum products. When the Japanese moved forces into southern Indochina, the U.S. warned them not to engage in further military movements and froze their assets in the U.S.
Getting Ready for War in the Pacific Northwest
In 1940 and 1941 the U.S. began to prepare for the war it wanted to stay out of but feared it would be drawn into. The preparations focused on the European war; only on the West Coast was Japan considered a likely enemy. This preparation meant a major increase in weapons production, which put more people to work everywhere including the Pacific Northwest, and finally ended the Great Depression of 1929-40. Congress approved the first peacetime draft in the fall of 1940; reserve units were called up for active duty and troops were sent to remote outposts in the Pacific, Alaska, and Iceland. This effort was small compared to the full mobilization that came later.
Washington National Guardsmen activated their units to refurbish and staff the run-down artillery installations overlooking the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The Western Washington Marine Reserve unit was called to San Diego in November 1940 to join the Sixth Marines on active duty. After an emotional leave taking at the Aberdeen station, the marine troop train passed under the new Tacoma Narrows bridge just hours before it collapsed in high winds. This was seen as an omen — most of the Sixth Marines were sent to defend the Philippines, and their survivors were taken prisoner at Bataan or Corregidor in the spring of 1942.
Coastal artillery mobile units came to the Grays Harbor beaches in the summer of 1941 for anti-aircraft practice and camped in Twin Harbors State Park. The Army's 194th Tank Battalion regularly convoyed units back and forth to the coast, clogging traffic on the narrow, winding road from Fort Lewis, near Tacoma.
The Army staged a major war game in southwest Washington in August 1941. More than 100,000 troops from Washington and California engaged along a 40-mile front in open farmland near Brady. Since this was a peacetime operation, a mid-game liberty was declared, allowing troops to enjoy a serviceman's dance in Aberdeen. When the maneuvers resumed in heavy rains, the defenders from Fort Lewis, who knew how to survive in a downpour, executed a brilliant flanking movement that gave the home forces the victory.
In Aberdeen in October 1941, mock air raids signaled by mill whistles and fire sirens tested civilian air raid wardens during a six-day alert.
The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, shocked Americans. The U.S. could no longer stay out of the war and, in spite of official denials, it was clear that it had suffered a major defeat at the hands on the Japanese — a people most Americans had regarded as inferiors.
In the next four months the Japanese conquered the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula, Indochina, Burma, and the Dutch East Indies. American and British troops were defeated quickly and easily by Japanese forces even when they outnumbered the Japanese, as at Singapore and Bataan. The Japanese seemed invincible. People on the West Coast wondered if the Japanese were about to land on their shores without warning. The military considered the threat serious enough to station troops on the beaches, establish beach patrols, and set up gun emplacements.
Pacific Northwest Industries in World War II
Industrial production had increased in the Northwest even before Pearl Harbor; once the war began, President Roosevelt urged America to become "The Arsenal of Democracy," and war production moved into full swing. The two largest was industries in the Northwest were the Boeing aircraft plants in Seattle and Renton and the Kaiser shipyards on the Columbia and Willamette rivers in the Portland-Vancouver area. A top-secret facility to produce plutonium for the world's first atom bombs began under guarded development at Hanford, in eastern Washington, by 1943.
American's overwhelming productive power was decisive in defeating the Germans and Japanese. By the last year of the war, U.S. factories produced seemingly endless quantities of artillery shells, bombs, replacement aircraft, and tanks. Boeing and Kaiser compiled impressive productivity records. During the war Boeing's Seattle plant built seven thousand B-17 "Flying Fortresses." The advanced bomber, the B-29 "Superfortress," came out of Boeing's Northwest plants at the rate of one every five days in 1943, and at six a day by 1945. The Kaiser plants constructed oil tankers, "baby flattop" aircraft carriers and merchant "Liberty" ships. A Kaiser ship built in 72 days in 1942 could be built in five days at war's end. Kaiser's Swan Island Yards near Portland christened their 143rd Liberty ship the S.S. Grays Harbor, and it transported supplies and men to the South Pacific.
To help achieve their production goals, Boeing organized ten branch assembly plants in western Washington, including plants in Aberdeen and Hoquiam that employed 1,150 people and produced riveted parts for the B-17 and the B-29. In addition to the Boeing plants, Grays Harbor contributed to the war production with expanded production of lumber, pulp, canned fish, cranberries, and a special marine plywood favored for high speed launches and PT (patrol-torpedo) boats. Local shipyards produced barges, and more than 72 tugs and mini-yawls that were used in the Allied invasion of France in 1944; another plant built rudders for Liberty ships. The war plants brought a welcome increase in jobs after the lean years of the 1930's.
Roosevelt and the U.S. Political Scene
The Great Depression changed the political climate of the United States. The Democrats came to power when President Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933 and stayed in power until 1953. Roosevelt's New Deal legislation of 1933-1939 helped bring America out of its economic doldrums and transformed the social and economic fabric of the country through programs such as Social Security, farm price supports, the National Labor Relations Board, FDIC bank insurance, rural electrification, stock market regulations, housing agencies, and minimum wage laws.
Roosevelt was serving an unprecedented third term in the White House when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. The next day, Congress heard Roosevelt's dramatic speech with the words, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy," and declared war against Japan. Roosevelt was effective in uniting the country behind the war effort.
Eleanor Roosevelt enlarged the role of the First Lady. Both Eleanor and her husband believed in using their wealth and position to improve society. She worked to relieve poverty in the Appalachians, and for rights for women and for blacks. In 1939 when black contralto Marian Anderson was denied an appearance in Washington's Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), Mrs Roosevelt resigned her DAR membership and helped arrange for the singer to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Monument to a crowd of 70,000.
Eleanor Roosevelt's books and her syndicated newspaper column "My Day" were widely read. At the beginning of the war she was given an unpaid post as head of volunteers for the Office of Civilian Defense (OCD), but she soon became the lightning rod for criticism of the OCD and was forced to resign.
In 1944, as the Allied invasion pushed across France toward the Rhine and MacArthur's forces were recapturing the Philippines, Roosevelt was reelected for another term. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage on April 12, 1945, a death widely mourned. "President Harry S. Truman takes over his new office and command at a dickens of a time," wrote Kearny Clark in a Grays Harbor Post editorial . He noted that Truman's test was coming, and "… no newspaper that carries 'The Pledge of Allegiance' in its masthead will deny him support nor render judgment in any way until that test. This way… might be called the American way." Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb and the Japanese surrendered on August 14, 1945.
A Vulnerable West Coast
Gray's harborites felt vulnerable after Pearl Harbor, well aware that their undefended harbor was known to the Pacific enemy. For generations Japanese schooners had been plying the north Pacific trade routes with loads of Northwest lumber. The shipments to Japan stopped, but beach residents feared their wide and unprotected beach would be a perfect place for a nighttime invasion. Their fears were aggravated by the shelling by Japanese submarines off the coast of Southern California in the days immediately following Pearl Harbor. At Christmas of 1941 a remarkable fleet of military and private planes and boats of all kinds were commandeered by the Army and Coast Guard to patrol the western shoreline. This improvised defense force is said to have caused the Japanese to abandon a planned Christmas submarine bombardment of West Coast cities that would have confirmed coastal residents' worst fears.
In the first days of the war, several West Coast commercial vessels were attacked and four were sunk. During the next nine months several Japanese submarines roamed the Pacific coastline, looking for targets. They sank two ships off Canadian and northwestern U.S. waters, damaged four others, and shelled Fort Stevens, a coastal artillery post at the mouth of the Columbia River. On September 9, 1942, a small Japanese seaplane was catapulted off a submarine, it penetrated the Oregon coastline twice near Cape Blanco, and dropped incendiary bombs expected to start devastating forest fires. But in the cool, wet forests of Southern Oregon the small fires were easily extinguished by forest rangers.
Japanese submarines amplified their presence by setting afloat dummy periscopes made of weighted bamboo sections. These decoys could fool human observers but not radar, which soon became a secret part of the Army's coastal defense.
In April 1942, 16 B-25's bombed Tokyo in the Doolittle raid. The Japanese wished to retaliate on the U.S. homeland. They searched for ways to threaten the American continent — and their answer was to release thousands of cleverly engineered high-altitude paper balloons into the jet stream, each carrying four incendiary bombs. Although there were 345 verified discoveries of balloons or bombs on the North American continent, no devastating fires were started, and only one of these bombs cause fatalities. A woman and five children on a picnic near Bly, Oregon, were killed when one of them accidentally set off the bomb. After that incident in May 1945 the War Department issued the first public statement warning Americans of the balloons and their bombs.
Rumors of Japanese invasions were rampant, especially in early 1942, and defensive actions taken by the military seemed to confirm the threats. Anti-submarine nets were placed at the mouth of the Columbia River and in the Straits of Juan de Fuca; planes and blimps were sent out on regular submarine search patrols; and barbed wire barriers, pillboxes, and gun emplacements were constructed on the beaches. The U.S. Coast Guard patrolled the coastlines 12 hours a day, deploying beach patrols of sailors and guardsmen assisted by dogs and horses. Patrolling the wilderness beaches of the Olympic Peninsula near Lake Ozette was considered a hardship duty because of the area's high rainfall, wind, cold summers, fogs, impenetrable forests, rocky shores, and narrow beaches.
Home Front Conditions
Because invasion seemed possible, the civilian defense measures imposed on the country seem relevant in the Grays Harbor area. Civilians willingly participated in the home front effort, volunteering to assist with the OCD, rolling bandages, learning first aid, becoming air-raid wardens, or spotting airplanes in the night skies. Grays Harborites, contributed to a "Clothes for Britain" drive — "clothes of every kind are needed, but only woolen clothes can be accepted" and many suitable clothes were sent from one damp climate to another.
Americans were forced to accept government regulations affecting every aspect of life — price controls, rationing, war taxes, and war bond campaigns. Mail to and from the troops was censored. The Office of Price Administration (OPA), the Office of War Information (OWI) and many other "alphabet soup" agencies created rules, regulations, and paperwork that were irritating but were designed to spread the irritation fairly.
The War Production Board sent out directives to control scarce materials. To save fabric they called for the elimination of extra cloth in men's suits (ending the two-pants suit), ordered shorter, narrower skirts for women and encouraged two-piece bathing suits. The OPA froze prices and controlled wages to prevent profiteering and price hiking.
Twenty essential items were rationed, among them gasoline, tinned foods, sugar, coffee, meat, and shoes. American shoppers had to master a complex set of ration books containing color-coded and dated coupons that had to accompany the purchase of rationed items. Rationed items were given point values that changed as supplies changed; red ration stamps allowed purchase of meat, fish, and dairy products, blue were for canned goods. Gasoline allotments were based on priority. Driving for pleasure was the lowest. Farmers and fishermen and others who needed gasoline to do their jobs got the highest priority, E for emergency, but had to fill out countless forms in triplicate every time they bought gas.
Stores were plagued with irregular supplies of goods and customers with money in their pockets either couldn't find things they wanted or didn't have enough ration stamps or points to purchase them. Household items made of metals, such as alarm clocks, were particularly scarce. When a line formed outside a store people would join it without knowing what they would find inside — perhaps only some hard candy or a pack of cigarettes.
Morale was boosted by widespread participation in the drives to collect scarce materials — rubber, tin cans, scrap steel, bacon grease, coffee jars, aluminum, newspaper. Throughout the war years, collected scrap supplied significant amounts of the steel and tin need for American weapons production.
Americans were willing to support the war effort, enduring inconveniences, the mandated 48-hour work week, housing shortages, and endless waits at the rationing board office. The average citizen worked hard, bought savings bonds, frowned at people who bought black market goods, and tried to obey the laws. Signs posted everywhere urges, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." For many, the wartime hardships just continued the frugality and thrift their families had practiced since pioneer days and through the Depression years of the 1930s.
Industries Close to Home
When the first white settlers arrive on the Washington coast, cranberries grew wild behind the dunes and the Northwest Indians lived off the bounty of the sea. Kathy Hogan's beach communities still depended largely on the traditional occupations of fishing, farming, and dairying.
Before World War I a group of Finnish immigrants working in Grays Harbor timber heard about the natural peat bogs on the south shore of the harbor. They bought and cleared bog land in Glen Grayland (now just Grayland) and planted cranberry starts from Cape Cod. They and their descendants still dominated the thriving cranberry industry in the 1940s. The 1942 harvest of cranberries broke previous records, and more than half of the new crop was allocated to Army kitchens. Each fall during the war, off-duty soldiers at the beach helped bring in the cranberry harvest.
Women Contribute to the War
The manufacturing work force nationwide was depleted when millions of men went to war. many jobs previously held by men out of necessity became available to women. More married women sought work outside the home, and factories began to train women as welders, riveters, and heavy equipment assemblers. Women learned to pump gas and drive taxi cabs, trucks and city buses. Other women rolled bandages, served food at the USOs (United Service Organizations), drove ambulances, knitted scarves, and saved rubber, tin cans, and fat for the war effort. And two hundred thousand women served in the armed forces.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged people to plant vegetables in home gardens called "Victory Gardens," and northwesterners had good reasons to cooperate. Farm workers had gone to war or to better-paying factory jobs. The Japanese truck farmers of Seattle's Duwamish Valley had been evacuated to relocation camps. Foodstuffs were being shipped overseas to feed the troops, making fresh produce even more scare in stores.
The Victory Garden Program was designed to solve the food supply problems, to improve people's physical health, and to stimulate cooperation with the entire war effort. Americans everywhere responded to the government's urgings, digging up and planting plots in backyards, vacant lots, parks, and community gardens. In 1944 half of all American households claimed to have grown a Victory Garden.
A View of the Enemy
According to the 1940 census, two-thirds of the 127,000 Japanese Americans were native-born American citizens and most lived in Hawaii and on the Pacific coast, with the largest clusters on the mainland in Los Angeles and Seattle. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, known sympathizers with Japan and Germany were arrested, but hysteria grew, enabling advocates of removal of the Japanese from the western parts of the Pacific states to prevail. In February 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the Army to evacuate more than a hundred thousand Japanese and Japanese Americans from the Pacific coast states to "relocation camps" inland, where most of them remained throughout the war. Former Aberdeen attorney Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen, chief of the Aliens Division in the War Department, was one of the most vocal in pushing for the order, and received a distinguished service medal for supervising the evacuation and relocation.
Throughout the war, the public's view of the Japanese and Germans was shaped by government propaganda programs. Posters and political cartoons pictured the Japanese as small, sinister, slant-eyed people. Movies explained the Axis threat in Europe using animated black spiders repeatedly exploding (like the sorcerer's brooms in Fantasia) into tens of spiders in close ranks, goose-stepping out of the map of Germany to cover the world with a web of swastikas. Newsreels bombarded Americans with images of ferocious Japanese troops attacking American positions in the Pacific Islands.
This was no time for a quiet study of the ancient and highly developed culture of Japan. This was no time to recall the individual hard-working farmers or shopkeepers who had been neighbors prior to the war. The U.S. was at war and the enemy was clear.
Throughout the war, courageous war correspondents wrote vividly about battles in the Pacific, North Africa, and Europe. Edward R. Murrow broadcast eye-witness accounts of the bombing of London. Bill Mauldin's GI Joe cartoons said more than all the censored letters from the front. Ernie Pyle told the human side of the fighting in Italy and lost his life during the final Pacific campaign. Kathy Hogan's front lines were quieter, but she shared Pyle's interest in the lives of the men "in the trenches."
Hogan's trenches were the sand dunes above her house, the neighboring cottages and the improvised barracks in the communities near Cohassett Beach where battalions of army troops were stationed during the early years of the war.
Born in December 1890, Katharyn Lyle Hogan was the first of three daughters of John Carol and Lillian Miles Hogan, who had come to Aberdeen from Wisconsin. John C. Hogan's career as an attorney began slowly; he worked nights in a mill to support the family until his law practice took hold. In the late 1890s he practiced law in Seattle as well as in Aberdeen. He was soon successful, winning a large damage suit against the Northern Pacific railroad; he incorporated the first logging companies, won a seat in the legislature and affected laws that govern the logging industry; he served briefly as Aberdeen's City Attorney.
Kathy Hogan was brought up with an upper-class Victorian view of a woman's role. Her mother died when she was eight and she and her sisters, Margaret and Mary, were raised by housekeepers and later by a stepmother, Lizzie. She attended a finishing school near Washington D.C. for "girls… who wish to be broadly cultured and prepared to live their lives worthily."2 She returned home, married lawyer George Acret, had two children, engaged in amateur theatricals, and enjoyed an active social life.
But married life wasn't easy for Kathy — she tried it with three husbands. "I loved them all dearly, but couldn't live with 'em," she said. She assisted her second husband, a florist, and her third, a journalist, in the working world at a time when few married women were employed outside the home.
In the late 1930's she and her third husband lived in Kalaoch, an isolated beach community north of the Quinault Indian Reservation, trying to operate a small newspaper. When the newspaper and the marriage failed, her father, who by this time had raised her children, sent her to live in one of his cottages at Cohassett Beach to avoid the embarrassment and scandal that went with divorce in those days. Kathy Hogan did not know that it was her father who urged Kearny Clark to give her writing a chance.
Kathy Hogan had learned the art of storytelling from her Irish grandmother, Bridget. Her father, a "gentle scholar with a thorough knowledge of Shakespeare," 3 had named her Katharyn after Shakespeare's unruly "Shrew" and taught her to share the Bard's love of the English language. She had a keen ear for colorful phrases and observed wartime expressions creeping into the language. With this background, she started writing "The Kitchen Critic" columns in January 1941.
In a column with kitchen in the title, one might expect a recipe and Hogan obliged with a few, once forgetting to list an important ingredient, the milk in the clam chowder. However visitors were more central to her stories — people like "my Fisherman friend," and the "canneryman with the curly-tailed dog."
During the war she kept a national Geographic map of the Pacific Ocean on her living-room wall to follow the war and her son's travels as a merchant seaman. Living away from cities, alone among unpretentious people, "living close to nature" as she described it, agreed with Hogan. After the war she bought the property at Cohassett called "the Barn" (because of its origin), tried to grow Croft (Easter) lily bulbs in its pasture, and continued writing "The Kitchen Critic" until 1950. She later built a modern house on the dunes nearby that had the feeling of that barn and a view of the ocean, where she lived until her death in 1973.
Kathy Hogan's compound of weathered Victorian cottages was the remnant of an earlier elegance. In the 1890s city folks from many parts of western Washington journeyed to Cohassett Beach to enjoy the distractions of ocean breezes, to bathe in the surf, and to be seen by other visitors. Historian Ed Van Syckle describes the development:
Behind the high sand dunes south of Westport… grew what was in its day the most fashionable resort on the Washington coast… it was… called Cohassett, named after a similarly situated town on Massachusetts Bay.4
Cohassett's "day" began in the 1890s and ended with the fiery destruction of the old hotel in 1917. The resort boasted of private cottages, Mrs. A.D. Wood's Pinehurst Hotel, and the two-story Essex Hotel. On top of the dunes was the "Tie House," built of railroad ties which had come ashore from a shipwreck years before. Early visitors arrived in stages, taking a train to Aberdeen, then a stern-wheeler to the boat landing at Westport, and a horse-drawn carriage to Cohassett. Accommodations were not luxurious; a water system was not installed until 1907.
During much of the war Kathy Hogan lived in the "Blue House," an octagonal building that had been a gazebo for the old hotel. Her family owned "Westwind" and "Clam Cottage," which were built in the 1920s on the grounds of the former Essex Hotel.
What charms remained to Cohassett Beach by the time of Pearl Harbor? A lane paved with crushed oyster shells passed under a huge whale-bone arch and led into the former hotel's front yard: many silvered fences outlined grass-filled meadows and the dozen or so surviving houses. Paths that threaded among the shingled houses led to a planked walkway that wound up a hill through scotch broom and pines to the first dune, then straggled across the inter-dune wasteland, vanishing at the high water line. The compound was surrounded by tall pines and cypress, and was sheltered from the ocean by high sand dunes crowned here and there with clumps of a tall beach grass imported, according to some legends, from Massachusetts' Cohassett [sic].
The cottages (most of which were two storied) were full of evidence of earlier sophisticated visitors. Bookshelves contained forgotten volumes of G.B. Shaw plays, "The Voice of the Turtle,"5 old New Yorker magazines, and hand-blown periwinkle glass bottles.
In the rush to defend the coast early in World War II, the Army sent troops to Hogan's area before any barracks were available. Sheds, barns, and summer homes were taken over to billet the soldiers. Cohassett Beach was no exception. The permanent residents immediately found themselves overwhelmed and outnumbered by the troops, an experience they called an "occupation."
December 1941 found Santa Claus on posters offering unusual Christmas presents: "This year give a share in America's Defense, buy bonds and stamps." the Navy recruiting office in Seattle stayed open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and averaged fifty applicants a day. When available, radios sold for $17, or $35 for a deluxe model. the airways were competing for wartime listeners — CBS offered Amos 'n Andy, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, NBC's Quiz Kids, Army Camp News, while MBS [Mutual Broadcasting System] presented the Lone Ranger and Serenade in Tangotime. Housewives listened to Ma Perkins, Guiding Light, Young Widder [sic] Brown, and John's Other Wife. Bob Hope and Paulette Goddard in "Nothing But the Truth" could be seen for 20 cents at Aberdeen's D&R theater. Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees was voted outstanding male athlete with a .357 batting average. And Kathy Hogan sat at her typewriter each week to write another episode about life on her Cohassett Beach home front.
- Van Syckle, Edwin, The River Pioneers: Early Days on Grays Harbor, Pacific Search Press and Friends of the Aberdeen Public Library, 1982, page 277.
- Catalogue for National Park Seminary, Inc. for Young Women, Forest Glenn, Md., 1907. Hogan attended a not-so-fancy school next door.
- Obituary, Grays Harbor Post, November 29, 1947.
- Van Syckle, ibid. page 213.
- Popular play by John Van Druten (1939).
"These columns... are really quite memorable. Kathy Hogan was a woman of such talent."
"Cohassett Beach Chronicles is the best kind of unburied treasure — brilliant, unexpected, and functional. You can open it to any page and find something interesting… In my book, no one except Studs Terkel has captured the mood of wartime America as well as Hogan."