Archive for the ‘Friendship’ Category

Goodbye Again To The Greatest Generation

Sunday, July 15th, 2018

Yesterday, we took time out from houseguests and hosting duties to say a final goodbye to one of my mother’s closest friends here on the Peninsula – Lib Moore.  Even before retiring to Oysterville in the early seventies, my folks had known Lib and Tracy Moore for years.

I’m not sure how their friendship began – I suspect it was initially through Tracy’s business, Strand Insurance Company. By the time I, also, became a full-time resident, the two couples were part of a weekly card-playing group and Mom and Lib both belonged to the venerable Mentor Club.   The Moores lived just a few miles south in a lovely home on the bay and they all visited back and forth as long-time friends do.

Lib was younger than my mother.  In fact, she was a little closer in age to me than to Mom – Mom born in 1911, Lib in 1924, I in 1936.  Yet, their interests were more in tune with one another.  As Lib’s grandson pointed out in his portion of her eulogy, they were part of “the Greatest Generation.”  That’s the term coined by onetime NBC Nightly News anchor and author Tom Brokaw in his book by the same name.  It’s a fitting description.

No precise dates define The Greatest Generation.  The term describes those who grew up during the Great Depression and fought in World War II or helped to win that war through their work on the home front.  They were born between the early 1900s and mid-1920s, according to some and, according to others, were parents of today’s “Baby Boomers.”  I actually think that skips a whole generation — MY generation – who I’ve always understood to be those born between 1929 and 1945.  (The U.S. Population Bureau refers to us as “The Lucky Few” generation.  Hmmm.  Good to know…)

As I sat and listened to the accounts of Lib’s long life – a life centered on home and family and community service – I realized that there are so few of her generation left.  In fact, I think she was the last among my mom’s friends.  The end of an era.  Thank goodness for the Libs of this world.  Thank goodness I knew them.  Thank goodness they helped make some of us “The Lucky Few.”

In the Thick of It!

Thursday, July 12th, 2018

Rose City Mixed Quartet

It was already getting dark as we left the High School the other night after the Candidates’ Forum.  Nine o’clock at night!  Summer on the wane already?  Hard to believe.  Wasn’t it just a day or two ago that it was still light until ten or ten thirty?  Well, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but I know we weren’t bedding down the chickens until after ten.

And, yet, as I look at all our plans for the days and weeks ahead, we are right in the thick of summer.  Visitors to greet!  Picnics to host!  Events to attend!  Garden beds and eager lawns calling for attention!  Thank goodness for whatever extra sunshine we have to enervate us!

At The Rodeo  With The RCMQ, 2016

Tomorrow the Rose City Mixed Quartet arrives.  They will be doing a House Concert here on Saturday night and will be the “Music” part of Sunday’s Music Vesper service from 3:00 to 4:00 on Sunday. We love having them here and I feel compelled to say that they set the bar very high, indeed, in the house guest department.  They have been known to clean our house – right down to moving couches and piano to vacuum behind – before returning to Portland!  OMG!  And a few days ago, we received notice from them that they were “planning on bringing some food to Oysterville” and proceeded to outline their intentions for most of the weekend meals!  OMG!

RCMQ at Vespers, 2009

For the second week in a row, we feel like Grandma and Grandpa at the Beach – although this weekend there are no “kids” involved!   Just grown-up kids somewhere in the age ballpark of my own children.  (Hey, Charlie and Marta – are you paying attention?  Just sayin’…)  We are SO looking forward to catching up, listening to great music, and visiting with these long-time friends!

And in the weeks to come – Gordon’s Annual Memorial Picnic, the Oysterville Regatta, the Rodeo and Finn Fest, Nyel’s birthday.  And that barely gets us into August!  Let’s hear it for summer at the beach!!!  Especially in Oysterville!

“Fun with Flags”

Sunday, July 8th, 2018

American Jack Flag

If you are familiar with “The Big Bang Theory” sitcom, you probably remember the episodes in which Sheldon and girlfriend Amy were creating a video series called “Fun with Flags.”  It was actually somewhat informative in a zany kind of way and I couldn’t help thinking of those programs when Tucker did his show-and-tell at our Friday night gathering.

Tucker is a collector.   An eclectic collector, I should say.  For some time (several years, probably), he has been bringing something-or-other to tell us about on Friday nights.  Usually he tells a little about how he acquired the particular item and then something about the item, itself.  We could almost call it our “Friday Night Educational Moment.”  Last Friday he brought a jack flag.

Grand Old Union Flag

Some of us knew what a jack flag is – it’s the part of the American flag with the stars.  Not all of us knew what it was used for except that maybe it had nautical implications and that the British flag is called the “union jack”.  Tucker said that he didn’t know all the ins and outs, but he did explain that the jack of the U.S.A. is a maritime flag, flown on the jackstaff on the bow of American vessels that are moored or anchored; the ensign (the entire national flag) is flown on the stern (rear) of the ship.  Once under way,  however, the ensign is flown from the main mast; its purpose is on the vessel is to indicate citizenry.

I did a little more digging and found that, according to legend, it was the “grand Old Union Flag” that was first raised at Cambridge where George Washington took command of the Continental Army.  Althought not  officially sanctioned by the Continental Congress, it was flown for some time during the Revolutionary War.  According to tradition, it was Betsy Ross, under the direction of Washington, who made our first sanctioned flag and it was she who suggested the five-point star because it was easier to make.  The Smithsonian Institution points out that there is no hard evidence that can connect Betsy Ross to the creation of the first flag.

The “Betsy Ross Flag”

I’m surprised that Sheldon and Amy of “The Big Bang Theory” didn’t talk about more of our American flags.  There have been many of them – especially during the early days of our country.  Too bad they couldn’t have been here Friday night.  I’m sure they’d have been inspired to renew their “Fun with Flags” episodes!

Were you listening, Mom?

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

Randal Bays

It’s usually (no, make that always) Tucker who brings something for “Show and Tell” on Friday nights.  Yesterday was no exception and I will be telling about it with enthusiasm – but maybe not until tomorrow.  Last night, in addition to Tucker’s contribution to the evening, Randal treated us to a different spin on the usual sharing.  It was, appropriately, “Hear and Tell.”

Mom Waltzing With Roger at her 95th Birthday Celebration

The Bays Family – Randal, Susan, Willie, and Owen – arrived yesterday afternoon, well ahead of tomorrow’s Vesper gig and in plenty of time to enjoy the beach and all the quirks of Oysterville that they have come to know after an accumulated 88 years of visiting here!  They especially wanted to be here last night to renew old acquaintances and meet whoever else might show up.

General Nyel and The Cannon


About halfway through the evening, Randal disappeared for a few minutes and came back with his fiddle and an old notebook.  He said that he had awakened about 4:30 that morning and, as he sometimes does, was thumbing through some old tunes he had written.  He came across one called “Mrs. Little’s Waltz,” written for my mother back in the ’80s or ’90s.  “I played it for her then,” Randal said, “but I don’t think she much liked it.  She didn’t say anything about it … just got up and poured herself another drink, I think.” The tune was charming – sprightly like Mom, herself.  I can’t imagine that she didn’t like it and I hope she was listening from on high last night!

“Lady Sydney” and Nyel, Oysterville Sesquicentennial

But… as if that wasn’t enough, Randal went on to play two new tunes – “Nyel, the Cannoneer” (a jig) and “The Lady Sydney” (a reel).  Both Nyel and I were blown away.  But, I don’t know if we conveyed our appreciation and admiration vociferously enough.  I hope so.  And, I hope he doesn’t tell another audience, later, that we didn’t like them. One thing in our favor… neither of us got up to pour ourselves a drink!

I’m hoping he might play those three tunes at Vespers tomorrow – just for fun!  I think I’ll suggest it…

Here comes the Bays Family!

Friday, July 6th, 2018

January 2018 Calencar Collage

We’ve considered the Bays Boys our honorary grandkids since before they were born.  They’ve come to Oysterville and stayed with us every summer —  and sometimes during other seasons —  since before they were born.  Last Christmas, I think the sobriquet (I’m not sure that word applies, but you know what I mean) became official when they sent us a calendar full of family photos.  It is on our refrigerator and we have the pleasure of ‘seeing’ them every day.

July 2018 Calendar Collage

We began the year with the photographs devoted to the family – every one of them, except Owen, wearing a hat.  This month is all about Owen at the beach.  In September we’ll spend the month with Willie.  Other months it might be their backyard chickens or the family in Ireland or on an outing nearer home in Olympia. The calendar has been a wonderful connection (albeit one-way and a year late) with them all.  But it won’t prepare us for seeing them in person… especially the boys.  Randal says they’ve been working out all year and they are both “buff.”

September 2018 Calendar Collage

We do keep up spasmodically by telephone.  Usually, it’s Randall who calls to find out how we are and what we are up to.  Then, we get his take on the various activities of his two teenaged sons and, sometimes, a taste of the angst that accompanies family life in the fast lane these days. He keeps us apprised of the uncertainties of Susan’s work as a researcher/biologist (She’s Dr. Susan Waters) for the State.  And we get caught up on Randall’s musical travels and teaching.  (BTW, his anual Irish Music Camp – Cascadia Irish Music Week – begins August 5th at Evergreen College.)

We haven’t had an in-person visit for… has it been a year?!?  We can’t wait!  They’ll be here sometime this afternoon.  And, of course, they’ll be playing at Vespers on Sunday!  I hope they have a full house!

Beyond Déjà vu

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018

Hayward: our last sleepover on this whirlwind six-day California odyssey before we turn northward toward home.  It’s hard for me to believe that I lived and worked here for sixteen years.  After a forty-year absence, the streetscape is almost entirely unrecognizable.  The names are familiar but… there isn’t even a glimmer of déjà vu!

New freeways careen toward cloverleafs and off-ramps that have obliterated…what?  I can’t really remember.  Another of those out-of-sight-out-of-mind things. Unhappily, it’s the same scenario with many of the people of my formative work years – colleagues in the Hayward Unified School District and friends in my Castro Valley neighborhood.  The names are familiar but I can no longer conjure up the faces or the circumstances we shared.

We met an old friend for dinner – a friend we’ve seen now and then in the intervening years.  Dayton has lived here continuously, working for the California Teachers Association until he retired just a year or so ago.  We spent a leisurely two-plus-hours over a delicious Italian meal (in a restaurant new to me) catching up and reminiscing.  Although “reminiscing” might not be the operable word. Mostly, I asked and he reminded…

“Boy, that name is familiar!” I said about someone he mentioned.

“Don’t you remember?  You had to go to her house on some sort of Association business and she answered the door without a stitch on?”  You’d think that would have stuck in my mind… but, no.  “You and Kathy used to go into gales of laughter on that one.”  And I laughed again… although I have no memory of that experience at all.

And we talked a bit about Kathy, his wife and my good friend for all of my Hayward years.  She died a decade or so ago of cancer.  The headlines said, “Teacher, labor leader Kathleen Crummey dies.”   I miss her mightily.  Especially here in unfamiliar Hayward.

Degrees of Separation? None!

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Sandy and Nyel

As we gathered around the big kitchen table, I realized that this was a family reunion of sorts.  Every one of the eight of us were related in some way by blood or marriage – three generations of strong and disparate personalities assembled for what we all fervently hoped would not be the last time.

When Sandy wrote that the Stanford Hospital had send her home with pain pills and no hope, Nyel and I planned our trip and packed our bags.  Sandy and I go back a long way.  We were college roommates.  We married brothers.  Our children are first cousins.  She and I are, in some ways, as different as night and day.  But sixty-two years of shared memories and family connections make any disparities blur beyond recollection.

The Music Studio

Son Charlie drove up from L.A. and we all had dinner in Aptos at Sandy’s daughter Karen’s lovely large home.  Her sons Rory (24) and Elijah (20) were there as was Mark, Rory’s dad.  And, of course, Charlie, Nyel and me.  The men all gathered around Charlie and talked music, film, acting, comedy, and even “Pinky and the Brain”.  It was so interesting to watch and listen to my son in the role of “old man of the industry” telling of his early days in “the business” and how things had changed… or not.  And to listen to the adulation of his fans —  never mind that they are related.

We went outside and steep stairs to Rory’s studio(s) – a sound studio full of instruments and possibilities and, in another room (but somehow electronically connected) his recording studio that he has been building for some time.  “OH! WOW!” Charlie said as we entered the room!  And, for me, anyway, that said it all.  It was Rory’s turn to shine as he explained the intricacies of equipment and played a few demo recordings – some of his own compositions with himself playing five or six instruments.  And then, “Grandma playing her alto sax with some of her musician friends.”

Rory’s Retreat

I hadn’t heard Sandy play since we spent part of a summer on Bainbridge Island with her family – probably sixty years ago.  I was overwhelmed.  And overcome when Rory said, “I’ve only done four recordings of her.  I hope she can get some of her strength back so we can do more.  She can’t play now…”  His voice and his eyes said what we all were feeling.

To say “I’m so glad we came” seems the understatement of a lifetime.

The Wedding Connection

Thursday, June 21st, 2018

The Wedding of Suria and Aaron

We often say, “All roads lead to Oysterville.”  It’s a bit of a take-off from my Uncle Willard Espy’s book Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village but, as the years go by, it seems to become increasingly true.  We just experienced yet another perfect example of this phenomena.

Young friends of ours were married in the Oysterville Church yesterday.  It was a very grand affair. The three o’clock ceremony was followed by champagne and oysters on the half-shell (and fabulous cheeses and French bread and other delights) at beautifully appointed tables on the schoolhouse lawn.  Then it was off to dinner at the Shelburne Inn which was otherwise “Closed for a Private Event” according to the sign on the door.  Nyel and I estimate that there were about ninety of us.  Whatever the number, we filled the pews at the church and, later, the dining room at the Inn.

On the Schoolhouse Lawn

The most unusual aspect of this wedding, at least from our perspective, was that all the guests (except for us) came from afar – from Los Angeles, from Detroit, from New York and from other far-flung places.  There were three folks from Oregon and the parents of the bride and groom came from Seattle — that was as ‘local’ as it got.  Except for us.  We felt honored in the extreme to be included in this gala and joyous occasion.

At the oysters and champagne part of the celebration, we sat across from a young couple from Los Angeles and my conversation with the young woman, Stephanie Estes, went something like this:  Me – “Oh, my son lives in L.A. in the Silver Lake District.”  Stephanie– “That’s right near me.  I live on Los Feliz Boulevard.”  Me – “What do you do in L.A.?”  Her- “I’m an actor.  How about your son?”   Me – “He’s an actor, too, but is also a retired script-writer for Saturday Morning cartoons – most famously, perhaps, Pinky and the Brain.”

Stephanie Estes on the Right

Then our conversation got interesting.  Stephanie – “Oh, that’s one of my favorites!  I loved it when I was a kid.”  A pause.  And then… “You know I’ve been in a couple of films with a Director whose dad worked on Pinky and the Brain, too.”  It turned out that the Director’s name was James Bressack.   Me – “Jimmy Bressack?!  His dad, Gordon, was my son’s writing partner for more than thirty years.  I’ve known Jimmy from the time he was five or six years old!’

It wasn’t long before we both had our cell phones out –  me calling Charlie, she texting James.  Another of those six-degrees-of-separation-small-world-moments that happen so often in Oysterville!  An added dollop of goodness to a perfect afternoon and evening here on the Peninsula where all roads, indeed, converge.

The bar is set high in Oysterville!

Monday, June 18th, 2018

“I’m going to get a petition started.  Will you sign it?”  The speaker, a long-time Oysterville friend, approached me yesterday as I was helping gather up the hymnals after Vespers.

Ordinarily, I might have had a question or two, but my response was an immediate and resounding “Yes!”  I knew exactly what he meant.  The Killingsworth Family had just finished their 25th Vespers performance and they had announced that it would be their last.  Their audience made it clear that they aren’t going along with that decision.  Perhaps a petition will help.

I’m pretty sure we’ve been to all 25-years-worth and we both think that yesterday’s was the best ever.  From “Midnight Special” to “Shenandoah” they kept us laughing, teary, and riveted.  At the conclusion of the service they were swarmed.  Old friends, newcomers, youngsters and a lot of us elders had hugs and handshakes for them.  It was their turn to get a little dewy-eyed.

All-in-all, they set the bar high for the rest of the Vesper season.  Whether or not that petition will materialize or, for that matter, do any good at all, it was a Sunday afternoon to remember and a fabulous beginning to this 41st Vesper season.  Thank you Casey, Monte, Josh, Meagan, and sideliner Sean, as well.  The petition is on its way!

(Photos by Tucker Wachsmuth)

The Voice of Many Mornings

Wednesday, June 6th, 2018

Lois Preston Cox-Sampson back in the days of Ocean Park’s Shake Shack 

For twenty years, perhaps more, the phone would ring at our house a few minutes after six in the morning.  “I was wondering…” would come the familiar voice, “…if Nyel would like to work today?”  And then Lois Sampson would say whose class needed a substitute and the day would begin in earnest. Yesterday we learned that Lois has died.

Nyel hasn’t been working for several years now but, ironically, he received an email day before yesterday from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction telling him it’s time to renew his Emergency Substitute Certificate.  Despite my incredulous, “You’ve got to be kidding!” response, he was giving the request serious consideration.  We have since learned that the substitute-calling situation has been automated and now, according to the scuttlebutt, the new system is “a mess.”  I’m not sure why except that there are some things that require finesse that no amount of automation can supply.

Lois had that necessary special ‘something’ that allowed her to match up substitutes with teachers and classes so that school days went smoothly for all concerned.  She always seemed to know who would be available to work on a moment’s notice, who might need some lead-time, and who would be the perfect choice for a difficult class.

Lois with granddaughter Amelia, the love of her life

I know this from having watched her work from both ends of the spectrum – as a teacher back in the day and as the substitute’s wife of recent times.  Without Lois to run all the necessary ‘interference,’ I don’t know if credential renewal is still on the table for Nyel.  “Without Lois” is a concept that I simply cannot encompass when I think of the Ocean Beach School District.

I was trying to remember how long I’ve known her and what her jobs with the District were over the years.  My mind is foggy on those details.  Suffice it to say that Lois has always been there.  Cheerful, informative, reassuring – whether on the phone or in person.  We will miss knowing that she is nearby – just a morning phone call away.