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As It Was: Gold Beach Rescues Snowbound Elderly Couple

A series of heavy storms in January 1932 brought colder temperatures and the first snowfall in four years to Gold Beach, Ore., making many back-county trails impassable.

The Ayres lived in the mountains several miles inland on a small, wilderness farm.  The elderly couple routinely made trips to town for supplies every two or three weeks, but folks noticed they were long overdue.

Concerned citizens collected 100 pounds of provisions, including flour, bacon, beans, sugar and cereals, and Sheriff Turner and his deputy headed for the Ayres farm on horseback with a heavily loaded pack mule in tow.

They arrived none too soon, finding the pair feeble from lack of nourishment. The Ayres warmly welcomed their visitors and the food.

Mr. Ayres explained they had started out for Gold Beach but became exhausted and turned back.  Their meager stock of provisions dwindled to limited portions of carrots, turnips, rutabagas, and an occasional trapped rabbit.  The Gold Beach Chamber of Commerce held a benefit, raising funds to assist them with food, clothing, and bus fares.

After their near-tragic experience, the Ayers moved to stay with relatives in Seattle.

Sources: "Elderly Man and Wife In Wilderness Home Are Found In Serious Plight." Curry County Reporter, 14 Jan. 1932; "First Snow Here in Four Years." Curry County Reporter, 14 Jan. 1932.

Laurel earned a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Humboldt State. Her research efforts as a volunteer for the Curry Historical Society produced numerous newsletter articles and exhibits and earned her a reputation as a seasoned local history buff. Laurel is the author of "Renderings from the Gold Beach Pioneer Cemetery", a 50-page booklet containing a walking tour and snippets about the lives and times of folks buried there. She is also a contributing writer to Oregon Coast Magazine.