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For years, I've been posting photos without much of a story, but now that I have access to old issues of the Western World, I will be telling more of the story. As a result I may be sharing some of the photos you've already seen, but before I knew the story (even though I wrote most of the articles, but, hey, that was over 40 years ago.)

The first picture I am sharing was taken 42 years ago, when Mike Erdman's fishing boat, "Waves," caught fire as he and his boat puller Carl Horton were coming in from a fishing trip in August of 1977 around 10 at night. Before the night was over the port manager Bob Belcher had heroically saved the estimated 100 boats at the dock and the Moore Mill Truck Shop.

I will try to condense the story as best I can. Here's how I started the article:

"Fishermen and townspeople lined the port dock and the south jetty in the pitch dark Monday night, periodically gasping with horror as they watched a 90-minute true-life drama unfold before their eyes.

"And before the night was over, a Bandon man had lost his uninsured $20,000 fishing vessel ... but countless other boats had been saved by the skill and knowledge of Bandon's port manager, Bob Belcher, who maneuvered the steel-hulled Port of Bandon boat with daring courage to keep Erdman's flaming vessel from crashing into the small boat basin where nearly a hundred commercial and sports boats lay moored.

"On the Port boat with Belcher were port employee Bobby Belflower, Fire Chief Lanny Boston and firemen Ron Streeter, Barry Winters and Roger Elliott."

Because of the fire, Erdman had lost radio communication, and as he crossed the bar he yelled at onlookers to go for help. When the Coast Guard's 44-foot motor life boat arrived on the scene, the flames had been put out, but the engine was still smoldering.

A Coast Guardsmen said as they were trying to pull the fishing boat's anchor up, the fire flared up again in hydraulic fluid and diesel oil, so they took Erdman and Horton onto the motor lifeboat and began fighting the fire.

By this time, the Port boat had arrived, but the engine on the fishing boat started up and it began running in tight circles. A line got caught in the screws of the CG boat and they were not able to maneuver ... and that's when the port boat took over.

After moving in tight circles for a short time, the Waves began getting closer and closer to the port dock and appeared to be headed straight for the larger vessels tied at the moorage.

Just as it looked as if the flaming vessel were going to crash into the dock, Belcher guided the port boat alongside and rammed the Waves in an attempt to sink it, but the burning boat continued in the wide circle ... this time headed for the small boat basin where the boats under 40-foot were moored. Again the port boat rammed it, but to no avail ... it just kept moving and its next target looked like it would be Moore Mill's truck shop, which was on a dock over the river.

After being rammed away from the truck shop by the port boat, the Waves' engine eventually quit and it beached itself alongside some old piling a short distance from Moore Mill, with the fire burning itself out about 4 a.m.

Sorry to those of you who already heard this story during my recent program on the 1950s, '60s and '70s at the museum, but considering what could have happened that night to the boats in our harbor, I thought it was worth sharing with all my readers.

The second picture was also taken at the port dock, but under much more entertaining circumstances ... during the raft race on the Fourth of July in 1962. This was the second and final year for the popular raft race event, sponsored by the Bandon Jaycees.

Rafters, who were preparing to leave the dock, heading up to the finish line below Bullards Bridge, included the eventual winners (in the inner tubes in the center top part of the picture), Craig Tresidder, Chris Clausen and his uncle, Joe Clausen. Not long after this picture was taken, someone from another raft put a hole in one of the two tubes and the three ended up paddling up the river to the finish line on only one inner tube.

The second place winners, on the raft at left, were the Butler brothers Ken and Bob, and Clint Cobert. In front of them in the photo and finishing third were Butch Richert, Chuck Goodwin and Mike Carver on the Jaycee raft. I wish I had room to share more of the photos taken during the race, including some with the Coast Guard vessel standing by. Note the people standing on the dock waiting for the race to start. By the time, it was over more than an hour later, spectators had lined Bullards Bridge to watch the finish of the race.

Featured in the third picture is long-time U.S. Postal employee Bob Martindale, taken in February of 1978, after he had been named postmaster of the Langlois Post Office.

Bob was an extremely popular guy, who was always ready to help out in any community venture, including civic groups and Peewee baseball.

* * *

It's hard to believe that summer is almost over, and that it's time to start thinking about the 73rd annual Bandon Cranberry Festival, set for Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 12-15.

The coronation will be held Thursday night, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Sprague Theater, with the $15 tickets available from a princess, at Freedom Graphics or at the door.

Friday night's Cranberry Bowl, to kick-off at 7, will find the Tigers hosting the Brookings-Harbor Bruins.

Saturday's main events, in addition to the festival market and Old Town Marketplace, include the parade at 10 a.m.

A new event this year will be carnival rides and a midway set up in the gravel parking lot across from the Old Town Marketplace, all day Saturday and Sunday.

There are a host of activities scheduled for the festival. For further information contact the Bandon Chamber of Commerce or Google Bandon Cranberry Festival. A special section will be published in the Sept. 12 Bandon Western World and will contain detailed information about the Festival, along with photos and stories.

* * *

As I was poring through old issues of the paper, I came across a headline in the May 30, 1957, paper which read: "City Winning in Hard Fight Against Gorse," and below it was a picture of Bandon's newest fire truck, with firemen Hugh McNeil and Jim Kay pumping water on a garage fire in Bandon Heights.

The first paragraph of the "winning the fight against gorse" story, reads: "With the completion this week of 40-50 acres of gorse-spraying operations the City of Bandon is showing a real gain against the Irish furze, spiky menace which surrounds the town and encroaches on every unoccupied lot within the city limits, John Fasnacht, utilities manager, said Monday.

"The gorse is not whipped, he warned, but the seven-year and $13,732-campaign against its growth within city limits has succeeded to the point where Bandon can hold its own and be able to make new gains against the infestation, which is a real fire hazard."

All I can say is I don't know what happened in the intervening years, or who dropped the proverbial ball, but the gorse problem is much larger today than it was when this story was written over 60 years ago.

A consortium of agencies and concerned people have joined together in the GAG (Gorse Action Group) to begin real attempts to contain the spread of gorse by educating property owners and attacking the problem in specific areas of town.

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