Cohassett Beach Chronicles
World War II in the Pacific Northwest
by Kathy Hogan,
edited by Klancy Clark de Nevers and Lucy Hart
(Oregon State University Press, May, 1995).
AFTER THREE FAILED MARRIAGES, fifty-year-old Kathy Hogan was banished by her father to live at Cohassett Beach on the Washington coast. She lived frugally in a small cottage, cultivating her garden and writing for a weekly newspaper. With World War II as a backdrop, Hogan turned everyday incidents into entertaining articles for a column called "The Kitchen Critic," published weekly in Aberdeen's Grays Harbor Post.
In this collection of newspaper columns from December 1941 to August 1945, Hogan writes about the home front--sugar shortages, rationing, civil defense meetings, President and Eleanor Roosevelt, victory gardens, her neighbors' fear of being invaded, the Japanese, the soldiers stationed on the beach, and fishermen and cranberry growers.
Hogan's columns as presented in Cohassett Beach Chronicles offer a remarkable social history of the war at home. The attack on Pearl Harbor brought U.S. troops to Cohassett Beach and to towns up and down the West Coast. With wit and perception, Hogan writes of civilians valiantly coping with this friendly occupation and wartime scarcity. Her neighbors– loggers, commercial fishermen, Finnish cranberry farmers– learn to live with blackouts, blimps, and a ban on beachcombing. Hogan's weekly descriptions of life on the home front capture America's wartime mood. Together, her columns document the war's tremendous impact at home, from the internment of Japanese Americans and the spread of government regulations to the changing role of women. They also reveal that in spite of the war effort life, in many ways, continued as it always had. There was still time to pick blackberries, gossip at the local tavern, and attend the occasional Friday night dance.
Editors Klancy Clark de Nevers and Lucy Hart visited Cohassett Beach often as children. They saw the scars of the army’s occupation in the beach cottages, and grew up in fear and awe of Kathy Hogan. Kathy’s sharp wit and wonderful story-telling endeared her to their parents, and now, to readers everywhere.
"These columns...are really quite memorable. Kathy Hogan was a woman of such talent."
--Scott Simon, National Public Radio
"Cohassett Beach Chronicles is the best kind of unburied treasure--brilliant, unexpected, and functional. You can open it to any page and find something interesting . . . In my book, no one except Studs Terkel has captured the mood of wartime America as well as Hogan."
--John Hughes, The Daily World, Aberdeen, Washington
FROM THE REVIEWERS:
“It was what she wrote about life in Cohassett Beach after Pearl Harbor that gave [Hogan’s newspaper] column lasting significance . . . Spunky querulousness and acceptance of shortages and the intricacies and irrationalities of rationing ...the essence of small-town life during the war . . .This is a splendid book.”
– Murray Morgan, Tacoma News Tribune
“As a kitchen chronicle of the war’s homefront history on the 50th anniversary of its conclusion, Cohassett Beach Chronicles tames and almost domesticates the wild colossus of combat. Like its Neil Simon counterpart on the other side of the continent, “Brighton Beach Memoirs,” it finds its niche in the telling details of family life, solitary reflection and human foibles.“
“Decades of distorted memory and romantic illusions have overshadowed the truth [about life on the west coast of America during World War II.] . . . Cohassett Beach Chronicles gives us the details of everyday life as lived by everyday people. It gives us real history.”
– Dan Hays, Statesman Journal, Salem, Oregon
“... we’ve read plenty about the battlefields. Cohassett Beach Chronicles tells of civilian life along the Washington coast. The most compelling thing [is the fact that]. . .This enchanting book ... wasn’t written years after the events it chronicles -- or after time changed memories.”
– Bellingham Herald, Bellingham, Washington
“Kathy Hogan is truly an artist; her pallet ranges from the muted grayed pastels of morning on the beach, to the harsh colors of loss and news of young men killed in action.”
– Inkslinger, Salt Lake City, Utah
“Her cunningly witty columns are filled with soldiers, and how they were treated . . . In reality [Kathy Hogan] is not so much a community historian as a folklorist documenting the foibles and fun of her neighbors and townsfolk.”
– Jonathan Jeffrey, Library Journal