EDITOR'S COLUMN New editor not new to Oak Harbor

Since beginning my job as the new Whidbey News-Times editor last Wednesday the many people I have met in Oak Harbor have been very friendly. I appreciate that, but it’s not something that caught me by surprise. For many years I came to Oak Harbor once a week as part of my job as editor of The South Whidbey Record. This is where we got printed, so every Tuesday I’d come up for production work. Therefore I got to knew many of the oldtimers on the New-Time staff, who in many cases were long-time members of the community. They were all friendly people.

But my fondest recollections of Oak Harbor are family related. This is where my wife and I brought out kids for a good time. South Whidbey is a pretty isolated community, particularly for someone with ferry-phobia. Ferries to me are temporary prisons that you can’t get into without waiting in line and paying a steep fare. So it was easier to go north to find children’s entertainment that was unavailable on the south end.

A wintery Saturday could well be spent at the Oak Harbor swimming pool, watching the offspring splash around in the kids’ pool, and then graduate into the adult pool.

Birthdays meant another party in the Roller Barn, where you could take half a dozen kids, rollerskate and eat cake for about $12. I must have spent a hundred Saturdays in the Roller Barn, even skating myself when no one had a partner. The job of a father who has young kids is to make a fool of himself, which is something I’m naturally good at in most situations.

Any weekend was a good excuse to go to Oak Harbor and take the kids to McDonald’s. They didn’t have one on South Whidbey, so it made a great outing. Thanks to the TV commercials, the kids thought they were going to Shangri La, and I liked the prices. Sometimes we’d go to Burger King to pick up a particularly interesting toy to go with the hamburgers, or Dairy Queen for a Blizzard.

And then there was the shopping. At the time, the only place on the island for inexpensive kids’ clothing was K mart, where I spent many an hour pacing the aisles as my wife and daughters picked out school clothes or Easter dresses.

I always liked Oak Harbor because it isn’t pretentious. Just an All American city with the popular businesses that some people make fun of today, but that will become tomorrow’s nostalgia. The kids are all in college now, but our positive experiences in Oak Harbor are firmly planted in all our memories.

Of course, this is just the surface of Oak Harbor. I really don’t know many of the people or much at all about the basics of what makes the city what it is. Meeting people is something that will take care of itself. As for the basics, I plan to use this space during the coming weeks to write about them. There are probably things that you have forgotten, or never knew yourself. Next Wednesday, the topic of this column will the the Oak Harbor sewer system. When it comes to cities, you can’t get much more basic than that.

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