Here's What I Think About That

Making Connections


Crossing over the Purdy Bridge and driving over the spit on the way home is something of a spiritual experience no matter how often we do it. The smell of saltwater, the expansive view of Henderson Bay and the beach at low tide reminds us of how lucky we are to live here. Shoulders begin to drop as the intensity from the rest of the world falls away.

Sometimes I close my eyes and try to visualize crossing that bridge when I need to let go of the things I am powerless to change in the moment. There are real life heroes and angels all around us every day, right here where we live. I have been lifted by their generous spirits countless times. I want to be one of them too.

The individuals who have been heroes in my own life would be hard to recognize as such. They have come to me many times and in so many ways they defy description. My heroes have never been armed with anything but fearless compassion.

As a parent, to recognize that sense of empathy in our children for the first time is a memorable moment. It is the capacity to recognize something not quite right outside of themselves. It is invariably followed with a question.

We have a lot to learn from our children. Sometimes we become so wrapped up in our idea of what it is to be an adult that we forget the spirit of the child that lives within us. They are our better angels.

Paths, trails, roads and bridges make wonderful metaphors for the choices we must make in our lives. To decide the way forward we often need to look back at the parts already traveled to gain perspective.

History can be our best and wisest of friends. It tells us life is not fair. It tells us bad things happen to good people. History implores us to examine facts from multiple sources to separate it from fiction or faith. History demands truth, but first requires us to believe it exists.

Talk of rerouting State Route 302 to avoid Wauna and improve overall corridor safety is hardly new. The Wauna curves are well known for collisions that cause terrible injuries and long backups, but they’re not the only dangerous stretch on the KP. Multiple re-routing options have been on the drawing board for decades. But nothing has changed except the number of drivers and their waning patience with each other.

While the future of the historically significant Purdy Bridge remains uncertain, thanks to KP News Staff contributor and historian Joseph Pentheroudakis, the rich history of bridging the gap at Purdy is revealed in new detail in a three-part series beginning this month.

He’d read an account at the Library of Congress that covered the early bridges neatly in two paragraphs. While there were other accounts, they tended to parrot the one story told and copy the previous person.

“In the past, people had to go and look by hand and if you didn’t run into an article, you’d miss it,” Pentheroudakis said.

He had seen mentions of three or four newspaper articles found in previous accounts, but when he looked, he found more like 40 or 50 mentions of the bridge.

He discovered the work of not only The Tacoma Daily Ledger and The Tacoma Daily News of the time, but an all but forgotten local newspaper at the socialist colony in Burley called The Co-operator. That’s when the whole story blossomed.

“There it was in all its glory with people’s reactions,” he said. “That’s the most important thing –– people responding to actual events and to the bridge as it happened.

“I mean you can see the whole story unfold before your eyes.”

The length of the bridges, how they were built, what they looked like, was almost completely lost. It was those newspaper clippings that captured the moment.

Back then, papers had local correspondents. There were people in Purdy, Vaughn and Longbranch who would send in regular dispatches. Granted it was mostly social news but I’m sure people who lived in those areas also read the papers to see what was going on with the bridge for decades. And of course, the county was involved, and the papers had in interest in following up on what the county was doing.

“Pictures tell us some of the story,” Pentheroudakis said. “But newspapers tell you exactly how the story unfolded.”

Now in our 49th year, the Key Peninsula News continues the tradition.