Archive for the ‘Autumn in Oysterville’ Category

Just Across The Way

Saturday, October 19th, 2019

Apple Thief at Tucker and Carol’s

During a break between showers this morning, I dashed over to the church to replenish the walking tours.  I was stopped dead in my tracks by the yipping and yapping and baying of coyotes from just behind Tucker and Carol’s house.  Not just four or five singers like the ones that hang out in our lower meadow and lull us to sleep (and keep our chickens rustling on their roosts) on wintery nights.  No.  This was a cacophony of sound.  LOTS of critters.  And just across the way. And in broad daylight.

Crow With White Feathers – At Carol and Tucker’s

The Wachsmuth house seems to be Critter Central here in Oysterville.  They get more animal and bird activity than all the rest of us put together.  Of course, it helps that Carol faithfully distributes wild birdseed each morning.  And that Tucker is the most observant man I’ve ever met.  It must be his artist’s eye.  Certainly, that accounts for the spectacular photographs he gets of his visitors.

But, he wasn’t around to spot the coyote visitors this morning.  Carol was at home, dog-sitting for Lina.  She said she didn’t hear the  coyote pack but, for no reason that she could explain, the dogs got extremely agitated about mid-morning — especially Potato, the little one.  So… there you have it.

Four Point Buck Visiting the Wachsmuths

Maybe it’s just as well Carol didn’t hear them.  There is something a little creepy about hearing a pack of anything ‘out there.’  Even in broad daylight.

Rural Tourism???… Maybe not for everyone.

Friday, October 18th, 2019

Here comes the tour bus!

The rain had started again by the time the tour bus rolled into town this morning.  It was 9:40 — about 10 minutes later than expected.  Never mind, I thought. They’re from Northern California — my old stomping grounds — and they’ve been having a rough time lately.  They might not be delighted by the rain, but at least we have power. I’d turned the heat on so they wouldn’t be bothered by the chilly October morning.

But. as it turned out, they weren’t from California after all.  Alberta, Canada!  Wow!  I confessed that I was prepared to tell them about all the connections between Northern California and Oysterville but… Canada?  (I almost asked, “Are you sure?”)  Never mind,  I’ve done the Oysterville tour about a gazillion times.  I could adapt.

One thing I’ll say about Canadians from Alberta — they are stoic to the max.  Only a few slight smiles at my jokes.  No questions or comments when I finished.  The tour guide later told me that this was the last trip her company would be doing to this area.  “We just can’t get large enough groups to sign up,” she said. “There are 27 on this tour but we need 32 just to break even.”

Field Trip Fun

I flashed back to other tour groups — the laughter, the enthusiasm, the eagerness to tell me where they had been and what adventures were still in store.  A lot like the various classes I’d taught during my 40-year tenure as an elementary school teacher. I thought to myself.  Each one different.  This group would take more time than my allotted 50 minutes to warm up.  I felt badly about that.

I wondered briefly if they had any clear idea of where they were… so I asked.  “No. Not really.”  Not for the first time I wished I had a big map.  So I explained about the Long Beach Peninsula being a sand spit that had built up over time at the mouth of the  Columbia River…  how during Oysterville’s first sixty or seventy years we had been dependent upon water transportation… And, of course, I talked about oysters — the kinds we had, the market in the early days etc. etc.  All the while I wondered what they had expected of a stop at Oysterville, Washington, population 15, weather wet.

Walking Tour Brochure

Several people thanked me on their way out of the church.  One man said he had learned a lot about oysters — but not as if bivalve education had been on his bucket list.  I handed each person a Walking Tour brochure thinking that some of the information might be of interest.  “I’m not walking ANYwhere!” one woman informed me.  They climbed aboard their monsterbus once again,  headed over to Oysterville Sea Farms for an oyster shucking demonstration and then to the Cranberry Museum for lunch and a bog tour.

It all reminded me why I’ve seldom even taken so much as a day tour when I’ve been traveling.  It’s the huge chance you take with the group that’s off-putting to me.  I do hope these Canadians  were having a good time but with some tour groups…  you just don’t know.  A lot like chickens in that respect…  hard to tell.


Really, Mrs. Crouch? You’re an editor now?

Wednesday, October 16th, 2019

School Street c 1970

Traditionally, only the roadways leading into Oysterville were called “roads” — Territory Road coming from the south and Oysterville Road coming from the west.  All the rest of the roadways were called “streets.”   And so it is today.

But, usually people don’t really identify the places in the village by what road or street they face — especially in the case of the schoolhouse and the church.  There is only one of each and they are pretty obvious even to a first-time visitor.  Most of us residents don’t know what the actual addresses might be.

Some years ago, the State had occasion to replace the street sign where School Street intersects with State Route 103.  For some reason, they replaced it with a sign that said “School Road.”  The street is only one long block in length and it amused the residents greatly that the sign at the east end then said “School Street” while the one at the west end said “School Road.”  Eventually the state corrected their error and, once again, the signs agree.

Sign Predicament

Not that I gave that much thought when I wrote up an article for the Chinook Observer about the Schoolhouse Lectures that will resume (after a silent spring) tomorrow at the Oysterville School.  Imagine my surprise yesterday when I saw the headline and first paragraph of my story online and it gave an address for the school!  And, not only that, the wrong address.  “301 School Road” it said.  To make matters worse, for whatever reason, my byline was over the story making it look for all the world that I felt it necessary to post that erroneous address.

I sent Matt Winters a quick email pointing out the Road/Street discrepancy and asking why my lead paragraph had been changed.  He responded right away:  “I didn’t change anything, but I imagine people will find their way.”  Any angst I was feeling immediately dissolved in laughter — yes, I don’t think anyone will be looking in vain for the schoolhouse!

“Mrs. Crouch’s Typewriter”

But, if Editor Matt didn’t change that paragraph, who did?  Never before to my knowledge has the paper felt the need to clarify the location of an Oysterville building  by adding an address.  And why the wrong address at that?  I can only conclude that Mrs. Crouch is messing around once again.  Perhaps she’s not pleased that just yesterday I decided to write about her once again in the sequel to my Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  I even began drafting the story…

Come to think it, I wonder if she’s done any messing with that first draft on my computer.  If so, she’s getting pretty cheeky, don’t you think?  Stay tuned…

For whatever it’s worth…

Tuesday, October 15th, 2019

Nancy Lloyd – Photo by Andy Dolan c. 2003

There is something compelling about trying to set the record straight even though it is seldom a completely satisfactory endeavor.  Historians encounter the problem continuously.  There are always new facts being uncovered — additional information that changes or illuminates what we have “known” before.  Getting the word out about new data and then convincing the populace that it is true (or at least truer) is the difficult part.

Nonetheless, I feel obliged to continue my commentary on  Nancy Lloyd’s astonishing article that appeared in last week’s paper — an article headlined “Ah, Oysterville: Small skirmishes in a coastal village.”  In yesterday’s blog, I wrote of my own part in the matter of the Johnson Homesite marker and sign — a totally different story from the one our once-upon-a-time-neighbor Nancy described.  Since Emmett Oliver and I were the only ones involved at that point (and Emmett is now deceased) I have no witnesses to my version.  Suffice it to say, I know what I know.

Polly and Elmo – Photo by Spike Mafford c. 2003

Today, I want to correct some other errors of fact in the article — in particular the comments made about Polly Friedlander (or, as Nancy called her “Polly with the famous last name.”  Polly was controversial, to be sure, but she was, indeed, a force.  She came to the village in the mid-1980s, rented the Stoner house on the SE corner of Territory and Oysterville Roads and, in 1994, with Bob Thurston, built a home on the old Bardheim Dairy property at the north end of town.

During the mid-nineties, Polly became active in the Oysterville Restoration Foundation and was serving as its president about the time that Emmett Oliver was lobbying for recognition of the Johnson family and their homesite.  It was the place where Myrtle Johnson (Woodcock) — called “the last princess of Oysterville” — had been born and was a location important to both the Quinault and Chinook tribes as well as to the National Historic District.  Or so Emmett Oliver, a Johnson descendant pointed out to ORF.  To no avail.

In 1998 — some years after the Johnson signs had finally been installed — Polly turned her attention to the arts and established the Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation.  In her article, Nancy attributes Polly-the-WRE Literary-Foundation-CEO with some responsibility for the Johnson sign.  The timing says that was not possible.  Nor would it have made any sense.

Myrtle Johnson (Woodcock)

Nancy also says of the “Last Princess”:  The lady had lived in a house now gone, right next door, south of the Church.  She might have been spoken of as the last Indian born in the village.  No, Nancy.  Myrtle, the ninth child of Cecile “Jane” and James Johnson, was born in that house in 1889, several months after her father had drowned in the bay.  She lived there for a few years until the family moved to South Bend.  Myrtle was then still a child — not yet a lady grown.  She was descended from chiefs — both Quinaults and Chinooks — and it was not because she was “the last Indian born in the village” (which is doubtful) that she was notable.  It was her distinguished heritage that gave her the title.

Oysterville by Willard Espy

And… one other thing.  It’s about the use of the word “prevailed” in relationship to Rose Glynn’s donation of that ten foot strip of property adjacent to the church.  The intimation is that ORF leaned on Rose for the donation.  Not so!  Rose had “discovered” Oysterville through my Uncle  Willard Espy’s  1977 book, “Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village” and made the trip west from Illinois to meet her newly-discovered cousins. (Her maiden name was Espy.)  When she found that the house next door to Willard’s cottage was for sale, she bought it, fixed it up, and became an enthusiastic supporter of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.  “Prevail” was not the operable word concerning Rose’s generous gift.

So… there you have it.  Another account by a “regional historian” as  I have been called and as the Observer identified Nancy in in her recent article.  Like most other facts these days, readers have a choice of which to believe… as will the historians of the future, no doubt!

Rich With Mementos

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

“Ghost Lecture” – Photo by Stephanie Frieze

Despite Mrs. Crouch’s efforts to low-key my ghost talk today, some 50 interested people showed up at the Senior Activity Center to hear me speak about Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and the possibility of a follow-up book. And, more importantly from my point of view, a number of folks joined in the discussion afterwards, sharing the stories of their own ghost experiences.  I’m not sure yet if what we discussed will ever materialize in story form, but my notebook is bursting and my head is abuzz.

Mak Grgic

Another ghost-related meeting – an interview this time — and by the time I arrived back in Oysterville,  Water Music musician Mak Grgic’s arrival at our house was imminent.  He was across the street at the church getting familiar with the space and the acoustics before coming over to our house — “the green room” — for some snacks and a little r&r before his concert.  He ate only a little, played his guitar quite a bit, and wandered through the rooms looking at photographs and memorabelia.

Our Stairwell

“You’ve been in this house a long time?” he asked.  So I told him of the three generations.  “My family has a 150-year-old villa in the Alps,” he said, “but it is not nearly so rich in mementos.” He paused here and there, asking questions and was especially interested in the age of the books.  “I have books that belonged to my great-great grandfather,” he said.  “I love the feel of the pages…”

What a lovely day!  From ghost aficionados to a world-class guitarist with an eye for mementos — sometimes I think that only on the Peninsula could we be immersed in such rich experiences all within a few hours and a few miles!  Our blessings are countless!

Waiting for Wednesday

Friday, October 4th, 2019

Nyel on the Move

Day before yesterday it was sunny in the afternoon here in Oysterville.  It was a Wednesday.  Yesterday it rained.  Today it is raining.  And the forecast says it will be raining until next Wednesday.

We are waiting for the sun breaks, whether they only come on Wednesdays or not.  That’s when Nyel can go outside and commune with his chickens and other garden denizens.  He could probably get outside on rainy days, too, although his “all terrain” wheelchair is electric and getting it wet is not recommended.   Not that communing with wet  chickens sounds particularly appealing, anyway.

When Nyel headed outside with his book  Wednesday, his plan was to sit in the sun and read.  He invited me to join him in the south garden and so out we went.  We were only halfway there when the girls spied us and trailed along behind.  Shyly.  We think the wheelchair is a little overwhelming for them, but they made it clear that they wanted to say “hello” to Farmer Nyel.

Farmer Nyel and His Girls

We thought an offering of food might help — chickens can’t resist a tasty morsel or two — so I went to get the can of scratch.  Sure enough, as soon a Nyel rattled it, all their shyness evaporated and they were eating out of his hand in no time.

Next Wednesday maybe he’ll see if one or two of them would like to ride around the yard with him.  It will make quite a picture, don’t you think?  “Man in Wheelchair with Chickens” we’ll call the portrait.  Could be one of a kind!

Hangin’ around for the sequel?

Monday, September 30th, 2019

Barb and Balloons Beforehand

Apparently, the purple balloon isn’t ready to concede that the party is over.  She (or he — who can tell with balloons?) was one of only three purples in the balloon bouquet on the day of Our Grand Affair.  I think.  We did lose a couple but I remember them as a red and a yellow — they just jerked themselves loose from the hand that held them and sailed off to another party.  Their loss.

We were left with 34 others to distribute hither and thither around the grounds.  It wasn’t a pretty picture, at least for a while.  It was close to one o’clock — the “event” to begin at two — and it was still spitting rain now and then.  We decided to hold off on the signs —  a dozen or so, computer-generated and sure to run if wet — but began putting up balloons, hoping for festive.

Exploring The Library

They had been filled with “hi-float” whatever that is.  More expensive, but supposed to guarantee that the balloons would last the 24 hours from delivery to the party’s beginning.  Worked like a charm except when a balloon ran afoul of an errant raindrop.  Then… toes up, or whatever the equivalent expression is for a balloon who is lying inert on the  lawn.  But… not for long.  As soon as the rubber surface air-dried, it was up and floating once again. For a few misty minutes, it was quite a show of up, down, turn-around from tent-tops and balcony railings!

Going up?

After all was said and done, someone brought the balloons indoors in a couple of bunches.  They “lasted” a week, but yesterday I took my handy-dandy balloon-popping paring knife and put them all out of their misery.  They pop-pop-popped and collapsed into nothingness with a satisfying whoosh.  Except for the purple one.  She hung out in the kitchen for a spell and then began making her way through the house.  Slowly.

The last time I saw her, she was bouncing up the stairs — probably looking for playmates in Charlie or Marta’s rooms.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the “kids” are gone and left nothing behind but a couple of unmade beds and a few unpacked memories.

Some parties just shouldn’t come to an end.

Which season is it, anyway?

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Really?? An apple blossom in autumn?

Today’s blossoms on our apple tree say clearly that it’s summer.  The lawn chairs with legs akimbo say the winds of autumn have arrived.  The flagpole sans flags announce that winter storms are expected.

I think the chairs win!  The calendar says September 29th — the sixth day of autumn, 2019.  I’d forgotten (if ever I knew) that Our Grand Affair was on the last day of summer.  It was definitely a day that telegraphed “Autumn On Its Way” and here we are, a week later, with all the signs pointing toward Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The morning after a windy night!

Except for that one, lonely apple blossom.  I wonder if it will become an apple…  I haven’t seen any bees in the garden for a while so I’m not hopeful.  Nor do I expect any long, sunny days which I also think are necessary for the fruit-setting to occur.  Maybe Larkin will weigh in with a thought on the subject.  I remember long ago when I had a fruit tree question, Larkin had a great deal more information for me than all the internet sites put together.

Lonely Flagpole

Yesterday, Nyel and I spent a few hours outside in the sun — me puttering and deadheading, Nyel  giving occasional advice and dozing over his book.  Now that he is able to be outside, it seems wrong for the season to change so quickly.  Come to think of it, maybe THAT”S why the apple tree is blooming — to welcome Farmer Nyel back to the garden.

The girls, on the other hand, seemed very shy.  But then, you never know about chickens… social one day, uppity the next.  Maybe they were just embarrassed about their featherless, molting condition which Nyel did, indeed, notice — even from afar.  He was sympathetic, mostly.  But I did hear him mutter, “Dumb time of year to molt,” though he knows full well they are right on schedule.  What was Mother Nature thinking, anyway, when she decreed that molting should occur when the days grow shorter?




Flowers, Feathers, and Fedoras

Wednesday, December 19th, 2018

You seldom see umbrellas here on the Peninsula.  It’s just a fact of life.  On the days when you’d really need one, the rain is coming sideways and the winds would blow any self-respecting bumbershoot inside out in a trice.  Or more likely, right out of your hand and down the road. We who live here are at two (or maybe three or four) with umbrellas.

I think it’s always been that way here at the beach. But it’s not necessarily a northwest thing.  Nyel says that when he first arrived at the ‘U’ in the early sixties, one of the things he noticed was that everybody on campus carried an umbrella.  So why there and not here?  And why in my girlhood did my mother carry an umbrella in California but not when we were in Oysterville, even in the wintertime.

I have been pondering these somewhat drippy thoughts intermittently (like the rain these last few days) since the phone call I received asking about a golf umbrella left in the vestibule of the church.  “My husband used it the day of the Christmas Program to help people get into the church without getting drenched,” the caller said.

I knew exactly what she meant.  The gutter over the small porch roof has given way and the raindrops line up there so that they can rush in torrents down your neck as you enter the church.  It’s a problem that’s being taken care of but, in the meantime… an umbrella is the only answer.  On Sunday afternoon the man with the golf umbrella (like the doorman at a fancy hotel) helped many of us arrive at the program comfortably dry.  A hero with a golf umbrella at the Oysterville Christmas Program!  Who’d a thunk it?

I wonder if the use of umbrellas is dependent upon how we are dressed.  I don’t remember my mother wearing fancy hats with feathers and flowers here in Oysterville when we came for visits.  She left those “dress-for-the-city” outfits (including hats) behind right along with her umbrella when she came here during vacations.  No feathering or flowering headwear to protect.  And, in the London of my younger days, when every businessman wore a fedora or a bowler, an umbrella was insurance against having to take the hat for re-blocking at the haberdashery.  But are bowlers and brollies still de rigueur on Fleet Street?

Here, where slickers and sou’westers were the uniform-of-the-day, maybe umbrellas weren’t considered necessary.  And nowadays, dressing up isn’t likely to include a fancy chapeau for the ladies or a fedora for the men.  I wonder how many ‘locals’ even own an umbrella… or, if they do, where and when they last used it.  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t going to the Oysterville Church last Sunday!

My Turn!

Thursday, December 6th, 2018

“Well, hot damn!  Last night it was my turn to take a ride to the hospital in an emergency vehicle.

“What’s going on?” they asked when they got here.  Standard question.  But it was hard to explain.

“We were watching television after dinner and the entire wall started moving to the right.  Then it was back.  Then to the right.  If I looked elsewhere, same thing.  If I closed my eyes, everything seemed fine.  Except for the nausea and…”

“So, you were dizzy?”
“No.  Not exactly.”  And I explained again.
“Vertigo, then.  You were experiencing vertigo.”
“Maybe.  But that’s not exactly what it was like.”

Meanwhile, I was freezing and they were plastering me with sticky things so they could monitor my heart.  “Everything looks good.  You have a bundle branch blockage but you probably know about it already.”

“No, actually, I don’t.”  “Oh, it’s nothing to worry about.  You probably wouldn’t have known about it for another two or three years.”  OMG!

Finally, they took me on the gurney out to the aid car.  I was shivering, waiting for the promised warm blanket, while we rode interminably, I thought, to Ocean bean Hospital.  “It’s never this far when I’m driving,” I thought.

First, the paper work – “medications you take?  Have you eaten any banned foods lately?  Romaine? You don’t look 82! Here’s a vomit bag if you need it.  I’m going to put more heart monitors on you.  I’m starting an IV – saline solution. Can anyone come to get you from the hospital?”

The promised warm blanket turned out to be the thinnest of thin covers (was it paper?).  Better than nothing, I guess. There were thicker ones in the ER but still I was goose-bumpy.  The nurse turned up the thermostat, asked me the same questions, gave me a pill for nausea and something by IV for dizziness.  Or was it the other way around?  The doctor came in.  Looked me over.  Ordered a chest X-ray and a bunch of blood samples and other stuff…  Nyel called.  He was fine.  Worried and feeling helpless in his wheelchair.  But fine, otherwise.

“Don’t worry about me,” he said.  “Back atcha,” I said.  “I’m fine.  Just freezing.”

About 11:30 they called me a taxi.  16.9 miles to Oysterville – a non-stop talking trip (driver not me.)  I was freezing.  I was glad I’d gone to the ATM yesterday.  I’d better go again today…  Nyel was up and waiting for me when I finally got home!  What a guy! Tomorrow an appointment with my primary care doctor.  I hope he doesn’t say “vertigo” but, if he does, I hope he can get to the bottom of why.  I’m still freezing.