The true story of Bertha Allison, a young girl who went by herself to the coast of Washington to teach school in 1898.
The telegram came from a far-off relation
They’d see to my travel, a place I could board
If I would sign on to an urgent position
A small country school by the Washington shore.
My first eighteen years, and I thought all the rest
Would be near my family in my native state
But work and adventure they called from the west
And I left old Missouri in fall ’98.
Where the sunset and forest reflect on the water
And I’m lulled by the waves as they break into foam
With the good pioneers who took me as a daughter
In an outpost of heaven, my Washington home.
The plains and the badlands they vanished behind me
The Rockies gave way to the Cascades so green
My relatives came to the station to find me
Then over to Nemah, a wink from the sea.
I put up my hair and I tried to look twenty
To meet with the school board and my little class
They books they were few but the spirits were plenty
And I loved their sweet voices, each young lad and lass.
My days had their share of this world’s tribulations
The cry of the cougars set my nerves awhirl
We got all the rain that God meant for the nation
And the loggers, you’d think that they ne’er saw a girl.
No churches or socials, no road into town
I lived for the mailboat on each Saturday
I wandered the primeval forest around
And savoured the beauty of Willapa Bay.
Three years had passed, I returned to my family
To go on to college and take my degree
I made my farewells to the kindly landlady
Her stairstep of children, the school and the sea.
A few more years on, I married my steady
And made our new home in the land I adore
For always my spirit was willing and ready
To fly to its haven, the Pacific shore.
This song is based on Bertha Allison’s memoirs, which appeared in “The Sou’Wester”, a publication of the Pacific County Historical Society in western Washington.