R.A.Q. – A History Mystery

A Nony Mouse writes:

“I have been enamoured of your town since I accidentally visited it years ago on an anthropology field study with my late husband. Your local customs, funny euphemisms, and cheery dispositions have a way of growing on a visitor. While I would not want to pollute your village with my own cultural baggage, I have adored and appreciated it from afar.

“Some of my most prized possessions are the cute little pamphlets sold in that quaint little museum of yours. They really spell out a charming narrative of the old west, re-imagining mundane daily occurrences as mythic stories as big as The West is wide.

“However, one thing I can’t make sense of is, with the second California Goldrush in full swing, why would a successful and skilled assayer like Song Wang Lei run off to Oregon, change his name of “Wayne Lee Song” and stay on in the area even when mining failed?”


Well, Nony, maybe he just liked the neighborhood.

Truth is, there are lots of reasons why Song left San Francisco. It was nothing like his home in China. He wanted to live somewhere that “felt” right. When he found himself as the chief assayer, mule tender, and cook in a failing prospecting camp, he looked around to the misty forested hills surrounding him and his heart lifted. THIS felt like home. This WAS home.

Can’t argue with that.

Truth is, lots of folks are “enamoured” of small towns. It’s easy to be when you don’t live in one. If you don’t have a great deal of mutual respect and social grace, they can be pretty murky unless you are so in love with your surroundings that you can easily overlook the flaws in the people around you. You can’t patronize folks, and you really have to know how you sound to others. A compliment is just a few sing-song syllables from being an insult as Brother Louis would say.

I would also like to add that we are glad you enjoyed the 250+ page pamphlet on Western Oregon History and Prehistory. It was just something we threw together for the tourists. It didn’t take much for our quaint little museum to do that kind of research and analysis, interview informants, and get the buy-in from a diverse population, that they agree with the story presented as representing them. Our ragtag group of volunteers that make up our Board gave it a cursory look and ok’d it after just a couple of months of verification, clarification, and revision. They’re glad folks like it, but it really was no trouble at all. Nor was the current 5th edition.

I’m glad you have appreciated the souvenir, and thank you for your courtesy and sense of responsibility in keeping a respectful distance.