When Gary Barker won a guitar in a poker game in Santa Barbara, Calif., he needed lessons. Maybe Gary had a plan because his future bride, Ruth, was able to teach him to play that guitar.
Ruth plays guitar, ukulele, banjo and sometimes the keyboard.
"Gary actually plays wind instruments. He started out playing trumpet, baritone and now he's playing Buddy's horns (tuba) every once in a while," said Ruth. "Really he plays a gut-bucket with our Charleston Sweetie Pies," she added then chuckled when she described the instrument, a washtub with a string attached to a broom handle. She added "He actually plays it pretty well."
After visiting Casablanca in Morocco the young couple settled in Bridge in 1975. "We couldn't afford Santa Barbara anymore. My sister and some relatives had moved up here," she said of what brought them to Oregon. Both found employment with the Myrtle Point School District from the early 1980s to about 2002. They had moved to Coos Bay in 1995 then shortly after retirement they purchased Oceanside RV Park, which they owned from 2004-2014 at Bastendorf Beach. They grew the park from 22 units to about 75.
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"We played music over there too," said Ruth.
Owning the park prompted their involvement with the Charleston Merchants Association and then of course the Charleston Sweetie Pies.
"We are still involved with some of the things. We volunteer at the Visitor Information Center," said Ruth.
There aren't many opportunities to play the family heirloom sousaphone for Gary, but he is taking it to the Islands of Charleston Dedication and Funky Fishy Flim-Flam Parade. The instrument is estimated to be between 105-114 years old. Ruth confirmed it's really more of a conversation piece because its a bit of a task to wrestle around the large 35 pound instrument in their Pigeon Point home.