Oregon Tavern Age: Roz is Gone

I hit the beach at Fort Stevens Stat Park with a kooky mutt and relished in the fact we were the only ones there, if you don’t count the bald eagle. It was a good morning for finding treasures: two fishing floats and a sand dollar.

After our romp, I landed at one of my favorite OTA joints, the South Jetty in Hammond, camp firewood capital of America. Over the years I’d documented dozens of great OTA stories there.

One of the regular bartenders, Meredith, caught me up on various Covid-related matters connected to the South Jetty’s loyal clientele, and I was surprised to learn that no one had died of the virus.

As Meredith talked, I sipped my stout and reckoned I’d written about a hundred thousand words in this joint, but those days were over and the OTA inspiration is fading as a subject of creative interest to me. Perhaps a return to the Oregon Coast my rejuvenate it, but as I have written many times, OTA country is dying out there, at least the OTA country I love and documented for over two decades.

At one point, Meredith walked away to serve another customer and then came back and delivered the shocking news that the other regular bartender I’d interacted with for years, Roz, had recently died from the effects of acute alcoholism. She had visited a doctor and received the diagnosis of three-four weeks to live. No chance of liver and kidney transplant. She died on schedule. Roz was 31. She left behind one small child.

The news hit me hard and was a slap across the face of my occasional glossing over the fact that some people in OTA country are drinking themselves to death, quickly, slowly or at medium pace, right out in the open, and sometimes in entertaining fashion.

In all my hundreds, if not thousands of conversations, eavesdropped on or as a participant in OTA country, this fact had never once been brought up.

I’d briefly mentioned it in print a couple of times, but never discussed it with the OTAs. Maybe you don’t in OTA country. Maybe it’s implicit or better left unsaid.

Roz was a fun and quirky red-haired bartender and put me on to some great OTA area stories. I will miss her and her outstanding gentle rapport with customers, some of them quite cranky, and one downright insane.

The South Jetty is staging a wake/commemoration for Roz soon. I won’t be able to attend, but Meredith said there will be a Go Fund Me page or some kid of giving tree to help with various expenses and the kid.

I’ve seen this sort of fundraiser for decades in OTA country and the locals really come out and spend. Of course it won’t be enough, but it is something they can do.