Posts Tagged ‘Coupeville’

Jake Ryder-Johnson

The gumball machine was the center of the universe.

There was once a video store stashed in a small town in the middle of a rock in the water up on the left side of the Pacific Northwest.

From 1994-2006, Miriam Meyer paid me very well, and gave me access to thousands of movies (and a free, brand-new DVD player which still works despite my best efforts to overheat it), as long as I hung around Videoville.

There were buckets of slushy mocha granita at hand, mountains of free merch from movie studios anxious to get in good with every video store dude (and dudette) who might be the next Quinten Tarantino, and Bugsy Malone played on the store’s TV screens.

And up front by the door, sending out a siren song to every lil’ kid in town, was the giant gumball machine, offering entertainment and rock-hard tooth rattlers for a quarter a pop.

Slip your coin in the slot, and round and round the brightly colored ball would go as it travelled its path to your waiting hand.

Or, in the case of a lot of the wee ones, to be left in the slot, unclaimed.

They wanted to watch the gumball whizz around and around, and their abandoned candy waited to be snatched up by video store employees.

Out the back door we went, carrying golf clubs and tees, and we smacked the liberated gumballs at a fellow teenaged employee as he ran back and forth, daring us to hit him.

This was — for young’uns who don’t even know what a video store was, much less that one held down the building now housing Harada Physical Therapy — in a time before The Pizza Factory was plopped down.

These days, we’d bust some windows.

Back then it was all open fields and B.C. Wells screaming “Not the nads! Not my precious nads!!” as we aimed, ALWAYS, for his crotch with our tee shots.

No worries, though. He’s gone on to father multiple children, so it all worked out.

But why do I bring this up now?

Because back then, in between the quarters slipping into the slot, and gumballs crackin’ off people’s private parts, the gumball machine was also where you’d find Jake Ryder-Johnson holding court.

He was a high school kid, a musician, a dreamer, forever boppin’ along to a song only he could hear.

Jake was in a car accident with my sister one time, but they both walked away unhurt, and he returned to hangin’ out at Videoville, a sleepy smile on his face.

“I got something for you, Dave. One time thing,” he said.

And then Jake, drumming with his fingers on top of the gumball machine, played, perfectly, the theme song to Scooby-Doo.

It wasn’t the first time he knocked a musical moment out of the park, and not the last time, but it’s the one which has stuck with me, all these years later.

Jake was a little bit Matthew McConaughey, before we knew who McConaughey was, a little bit Spicoli in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and a whole lot of just himself, unique in every way.

His life wasn’t always the easiest, and it’s been a bit since I last saw him in person, but he’s one of those dudes whose memory doesn’t fade.

Jake died unexpectedly a few weeks back, and that truly sucks.

But he’s always going to be part of my memories of my Videoville years, the one time in my life when my job didn’t seem like work at all.

I’m behind the counter trying to convince the world Bottle Rocket is a classic, the Reese’s Pieces are close by, an opera just kicked into gear on the TV’s (messin’ with the customers…), and Jake?

He’s drumming the theme to Scooby-Doo on the gumball machine, now and forever.


To help Jake’s family and friends, check out:


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Ask not for whom the Christmas tree loses its needles; it loses them for thee.

But, with one quick choice, you can get someone else to clean up the mess!

Troop 4058, Coupeville’s pack of scouts, will be out and about this coming weekend hauling away holiday pines and firs for their first fundraiser of the new year.

The event, set for Jan. 7-8, runs from 9 AM-noon each day, and covers Coupeville to Greenbank, though the scouts are willing to discuss exceptions.

Troop 4058, which is open to girls and boys, is chartered by the Coupeville Lions Club, and has been operating since 1977.

The scouts typically plan 12-15 outings a year, including Camporee and Summer Camp.


To sign up for Christmas tree removal, pop over to:


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Flooding threatens store inventory at The Kingfisher Bookstore in Coupeville.

Buy a book online, help keep a local business afloat.

The Kingfisher Bookstore, which is located on the water side of Front Street in Coupeville, was one of the hardest hit by flooding Tuesday.

“It has been a hard, sad day,” store owners wrote on Facebook.

“A combination of tide, wind, rain and snowmelt led to six inches of seawater in our lower level this morning.”

Neighbors, friends, and others have rallied to help The Kingfisher, and other businesses affected by the onslaught of weather.

“We are so grateful to all the community members, some complete strangers, who came out to help with pumps in the morning, hauling truckloads of wet books out and setting up fans and heaters in the afternoon, and finally sandbags in the evening to try and keep the water out tomorrow morning,” the owners wrote.

“We can never thank you enough for your hard work, high spirits and hugs.”

One very easy, effective way to help The Kingfisher in its time of need is to place online orders, which can be done by jumping to the store website:



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The trail calls to you. (Sarah Kirkconnell photo)

Cow Town is kickin’ your fanny, South Whidbey.

It’s Coupeville which is “the most progressive town for alternative transport trails on the island.”

That’s the assessment offered by noted hiker, best-selling author, and frequent rabble rouser Sarah Kirkconnell, also known as my sister.

While the former longtime Miriam’s Espresso barista calls the South end of Whidbey home these days, it’s the Walking Ebey’s Trail System which gets her stamp of approval.

Having navigated the newly improved system recently, with two of my three nephews along for the hike, she’s hit the interwebs this morning with her review.

To check it out, add to her page hits, and win me favor (and free food!) pop over to:


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Sara and Tyler Hansen (Photos property Oystercatcher restaurant)

The restaurant was founded in 1998 by chef Susan Vanderbeek.

They’re looking to streamline.

After a nine-year run operating Coupeville’s popular Oystercatcher restaurant, owners Sara and Tyler Hansen are placing the business up for sale.

The last day under the current leadership is set for Sunday, Oct. 30.

The duo plan to turn their focus to their other business, The Little Red Hen Bakery, and are moving that establishment back from Front Street to Grace Street.

That storefront will be open Thursday, Sept. 1.


The Hansens released the following letter:


To Our Oystercatcher and Little Red Hen community (near and far):

Together we are approaching our 9-year anniversary since we took over the Oystercatcher restaurant.

The experience has been life changing for us; it has allowed us to put down roots in this place we call home, grow from those roots, have fun and experiment, and get to know you all – our community, fellow business owners, friends and staff that have become family.

You all have nurtured us so that we could realize our dream of the Oystercatcher, together.

With that realization has come the deep understanding that it is time for us, Sara and Tyler, to step back, refocus and devote our energy to other passions and to let someone else take the reins.

We are starting the process of listing the Oystercatcher restaurant for sale and wanted you to hear it directly from us first.

Please know that this is not a decision we came to lightly, we’ve put a lot of heart into this business and are extremely proud of what we have accomplished with our talented, dedicated and creative team members throughout the years.

Instead, we are choosing to listen to our hearts and realize this is the right time for us to step back and look ahead.

We are lucky to be working with local broker extraordinaire, Janet Burchfield, on the listing of our beloved business and feel extremely well cared for throughout the process.

If you are interested to know more, please direct all inquiries to Janet at frontstreetjb@aol.com.

As for us, we are not going anywhere.

Over the last few years we have purchased the building at 901 Grace Street, which currently contains our production bakery for Little Red Hen and upstairs the current Oystercatcher restaurant.

With this sale, we are digging down deeper in our Coupeville community and are thrilled to be able to partner, and nurture, the creative talents of the next chefs and owners of the restaurant space.

Our resolve to enrich our island community has only gotten stronger and we look forward to continuing further down the path of simply good food.

With that being said, the Little Red Hen Bakery is going back to its roots.

We’re moving our retail storefront from Front Street back up to our production bakery at 901 Grace Street – where it all started.

Our beloved breads and craft pastries will be available just mere steps from where we pull them fresh out of the oven.

The Little Red Hen Bakery at 901 Grace Street will (re)debut on Thursday, September 1, and will have plenty of open-air seating for you to sit and enjoy our craft breads, pastries and drip coffee – with more cover to come as the seasons change.

We love this community, and we want to preserve ourselves to be here for the long haul.

Sometimes you need to take a moment to slow down, to move forward with intention.

Stay tuned for Little Red Hen and Oystercatcher updates, for exciting new ventures from our longtime staff members and for special celebrations as we approach the Oystercatcher’s last day this coming fall.

We appreciate this community more than we can put in words and will be forever thankful for the opportunity you gave us with the Oystercatcher.

That has led to Little Red Hen Bakery and given us the chance to prove just how much we value this Whidbey community and want to continue to share our passion of simply good food with you all.

With love,

Sara and Tyler Hansen
and the Oystercatcher & Little Red Hen Team

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