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Thirty-five years or so ago, in the ecstatic peak of its fanatic Oregon Coast Highway straightening mission, the dictatorial State Highway Commission, (now ODOT) proposed to reroute 101 north of Beaver and send it plowing through dairy farms near Sandlake, over Cape Kiwanda, down Nestucca Spit and over Nestucca Bay. It didn't happen, frankly incredible considering the Paleolithic environmental sensitivities of past and present Tillamook County elected officials, but what it means today is the Oregon Coast Highway still winds though Beaver...and Hebo. And at the intersection of 101 and 22, is the Hebo Bar and Grill, formerly known as Nobodies Inn. At first impression, Hebo is gray, grey, grayer, greyest, no David Gray ever playing, and beset with problems like floods, a failing sewage treatment plant failing, an unkempt trailer park, missing teeth, stray dogs, hookworm, and barefoot kids drinking 72 oz. cups of pop at 10:00 a.m. on a school day. But on closer inspection and possessed of a little local knowledge, Hebo the village has some curious charm: several massive Sequoias, an old faded yellow cheese factory for sale on Three Rivers, and a concentration of outstanding artists and musicians. Nearby is also Mt. Hebo, where Bigfoot has been sighted, a witch coven is said to convene, and there used to be an Air Force radar base in the 50s, 60s and 70s--which has to be a great Oregon Coast Officer and a Gentleman story waiting to be told by a Debra Winger look-a-like novelist, with a ripped stomach and the proper erotic and reporting instincts. She also better be able to hold her drink. At first glance the Hebo Bar and Grill can also serve up a misimpression. But on closer inspection, from the inside, you'll notice a freshly remodeled place, a relaxed atmosphere, windows that afford 101 views, an unfinished puzzle for patrons to work on, Pabst and Hamm's on tap, Hot Mama sausages, a pool table, darts, a jukebox loaded with country, and a bizarre antique cooler that looks like the Orgasmatron from Woody Allen's Sleeper. There are also priceless dialogue nugget like, "I smoked four packs of cigarettes on Christmas Eve and watched the fish tank." I've been told the Hebo Bar and Grill has operated under many names and has a long history as an Oregon Coast drinking hole. It especially rocked as a hangout for base personnel during the Cold War. What a scene it must have been--the local Tillamook County women drinking wildly there, mingling, flirting with airmen from all over the country, maybe some hoping to meet a Richard Gere sort of figure to transport them far away from the manure smell, clearcuts, Jello desserts and bumpkinism. It's the stuff of a great Pacific Northwest novel. If you want to write it, start at the Hebo Bar and Grill.
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