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Grayland

A village of Finnish cranberry growers. In the neighborhood are more than 100 cranberry bogs. One block from and paralleling the highway is a long street bordered with neat, well-painted houses, each set trimly at the edge of its own rectangular cranberry field.

The plants, tiny green and pink rosettes, are wedged tightly together; in the autumn they take on a crimson tint. Cranberry plants require four years to mature and must be sprayed at least ten times each year; as no part of the field may be trod on during cultivation, spraying becomes a rather arduous task. In the 1940s, narrow-gauge tracks ran down the center of the field, carrying spraying apparatus and fertilizer.

In picking the berries, a pronged scoop is used, which strips the little plants clean without injuring them. Each planter handles his crop without hired help. The Finns, marketing the berries through a co-operative, have little difficulty in disposing of their entire crop.

Unlike the stump-ranching communities, nothing is ramshackle or rambling in Grayland; there are no broken fences, hanging gates, straying cattle, or other irregularities; fresh paint and shining windows are the rule in the village. The Finns credit their good health to the Finnish steam bath; some supplement the bath by beating their bodies with cedar boughs to aid blood circulation. In the 1940s, Midsummer Day, the twenty-fourth of June, was still celebrated with bonfires, folk dancing, and other outdoor exercises. Traditional costumes were worn at the festivities, which usually lasted all night.

Much of Grayland remains as it did 50 years ago. Though some of the early cottages have given way to larger, newer residences, the landscape along Cranberry Street consists of houses behind which neatly bordered cranberry bogs continue to produce abundant harvests.

The name of the community is a combination of the name of Robert Gray, who discovered Grays Harbor, with land, for poetic effect.