I just finished reading, with some disbelief, Hank Sims starry-eyed visit to Orleans in the Aug. 12 issue ("The Town Dandy"). It was akin to writing about Eureka based on a visit to Old Town, and it goes to show that even in utopia there's myopia.
Mr. Sims must have had his rose-colored granny glasses on when he rolled into Orleans, or the usual of collection of ne'er do wells were sleeping late. He missed the miscreants who, tweaked and/or drunk at 2 a.m., are hollering at the top of their lungs and fighting with each other in the middle of town. He didn't witness the stabbings, shootings, robberies, child abuse and neglect that is a part of our happy little hamlet, which has a higher rate of social ills than is the norm.
He was probably sitting in a really loud drum circle, gazing at his navel or singing "Kumbaya" at the top of his lungs to miss the heavy- and light-caliber gunfire which frequently punctuates the usual quiet. He obviously didn't stop at the store or the café and have his car broken into while he was woofing down a burger or buying a half rack of man sodas to enjoy with the locals.
The Orleans I know, and have known for the past 33 years, is a mix of old families and newer arrivals, the former post-WWII loggers and mill workers and the latter back-to-the-earth types who came here to farm or work for the Forest Service in the 1970s and ‘80s and stayed on. They came on the heels of those who arrived to exploit recreational sport fishing opportunities back in the 1920s and 30s. Those people arrived on the heels of those who came to exploit mineral riches (gold), who in turn tried to displace the indigenous population, the Karuk people, who have been here for thousands of years and called the village along the Klamath River Panamnik. Curiously, Mr. Sims gave the Karuk, which comprises half of Orleans' population, short shrift in his article, other than to mention that some people work for the tribe. The Karuk tribe has provided not only natural resource-related jobs, but the only medical clinic, a senior center, a senior lunch program, a computer center and a multitude of tangible and intangible benefits to the community.
Agriculture is an important aspect of our community, providing employment and a sustainable living for many families. We are justly proud of the abundance of premiere fruits and veggies that grow here in our tiny river valley and the reputation they have earned at the local farmer's markets, as well as the fine wines the town's two wineries produce. But it is but one aspect of our community and does not define the area as a whole.
Those of us who have lived here for decades love, and accept, Orleans for what it is. A scenic spot in the Klamath knot with equal amounts of good and evil.
Mark Dondero, Orleans
Sweet Spot: Mark Dondero battles back a double-barreled Sottong assault and a tea-swilling surrender monkey. He wins a Bon Boniere sundae for sending our favorite letter of the week.