Archive for the ‘From the Past’ Category

When The Stars Align and Memories Erupt!

Monday, August 3rd, 2020

Sometimes nice things happen for no reason at all — at least not for any reason that is immediately apparent.  So it was when a former student called me the other day and asked if I had any of my Ocean Park School books for sale.  If she had called a month beforehand, or even a week before, the answer would have been “I’m sorry.  No.”  But as it was…

Last week I had received an order of my Arcadia books and was reorganizing shelves in the back forty to accommodate them.  Up high where I could hardly reach was an unlabeled box which I retreived with difficulty and… voilà ! There were six or eight copies of Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades!  I was so happy to see them!

1979 – Tera in A.M. Kindergarten, 2nd Row, 3rd from left

Years ago, when the book was not selling and not selling (it did dismally, I’m sad to say), I gifted the copies that remained to the Friends of Ocean Park School.  I thought they could use them as prizes or something.  For all I know they still have them stashed in a storage area somewhere.  I purposely kept out a few dozen copies to sell… just in case.

Over the years Adelaide’s had sold a few and I sold a few, but otherwise… nothing.  Gradually, I forgot that I had any left.  So, a year or so ago when someone asked me about them, I said, “Sorry.  There are no more.”  I wish I knew who that was!  I could revise my reply!

The other thing is that they were very spendy to produce.  (I had them published with the yearbook company that does the Ilwaco High School yearbooks.)  So I priced them at my cost thinking that I might manage to at least recoup my investment…  Surprise!  Surprise!  They certainly did NOT fly off the shelves.

Ocean Park School, 1936

But that was fifteen years ago and book prices, like everything else. have gone up.  The price of  Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades stays the same — $60.00.  It still seems spendy to me but when Tera Fluharty (O.P. School, 1979-1982) came to the door to get her book, she didn’t bat an eye!  What she did do was visit and reminisce for ten minutes or so.  Even masked and distanced as we were, it was fabulous!  As we both agreed, there really is no price that can be put on memories!





Sometimes you forget…

Friday, July 31st, 2020

House Book – Front Cover

I recently “ran across” (which means, really, that I zeroed in on what had been in front of my very eyes for years and years) my “House Book” from the years I lived on the bay in the house that Ossie (and Wolfgang and Gunter) built for me.  The book is essentially two leather  covers enclosing a few hundred “blank” pages — or they were once.  During those years — 1980 – 2000) many people filled the book’s pages with  drawings, advice, praise, more drawings and general craziness.

The book was made for me by Nancy Lloyd in the days she specialized in leather craft.  It contains an amazing history of my life in that house and is full of memories of the wonderful people who visited me there, who partied there, who touched my life and who will always be in my heart.

"Gore & Roar" 9/3/82 by Gordon Schoewe

“Gore & Roar” 9/3/82 by Gordon Schoewe

I love reading it, though it tugs fearfully at my heartstrings.  On 3/29/80, just after I had moved in,  my dad wrote:  May this house (and home) never be finished — the essence of life is expectation. — Dad (WWLittle).

The first time Nyel’s name appeared was on 9/28/84.  He was included in the notation made by me:  Dennis Crabb’s “musical wish group” met here.  Along with Nyel’s name were listed Kathy Sayce, Ann Kischner, Ann Hauser, me.  Was that the first glimmer of the “Water Music Festival?”  But where were Patty and Noel and Kathy Crabb?

By Charles Mulvey 11/10/84

And SO many parties!  A Goodbye to Lawrence Lessard party in 1984 and again in 1986 (go figure!); birthday parties (many!) for Gordon and Roy and Noel and Nyel; High Tide parties toward the end of each December (usually); anniversary celebrations for my mom and dad;  Cinco de Mayo celebrations; come-and-meet-our-friends-from-Calif. or Ariz. (or Seattle or Boston or Oxford) parties; and Just Because parties.

On 4/16/94 Willard wrote Paradise is to be at Sydney’s and Nyel’s, by the bay, on a sunny day in April…Love Willard and Louise.    And in August 1995, notes from my cousins Joey and Mona Espy from NYC and New Orleans, respectively.

By Hannah Snyder 8/8/88

Throughout the book are (typically) nutty messages to  “Mommy” from Charlie commemorating his annual Christmas and occasional summer visits.  On Christmas 1994 he wrote:  I came here and saw Mommy & Nyel & Bowser.  Bowser loves me.  Big Kitty Jr. is at home all by himself for the first time, and he is lonely.  I have asked Nyel to try to find me a hardcover copy of Wittgenstein’s “Tractus Philologicus” which I’ve wanted to read for a long time– but now I’m reading “Hopeful Monsters” by Nicholas Mosely which refers to it.  We are having chicken… 

House Book- Back Cover

At the very end of the book is a list of “Sightings” which begins 4/11/86  at 7:30 a.m. 2 adult raccoons on Sydney’s Road heading for woods; 7:45 a.n. cock pheasant between house and high tide line… and continues to record deer and black bear and elk and hawks for pages and pages!

How rich our lives have been!


We had to take a raincheck!

Friday, July 24th, 2020

Ambrose, Gordon’s Alter Ego

Yesterday should have been Gordon Schoewe’s 7th Memorial Picnic Day in honor of his 94th birthday, but… you know.  We had to give this one a miss.  We’ll try again next year.  I wonder if any of the picnic group remembered to drink a martini in his honor.

There were no martinis here but at least I was able to suggest to our Bainbridge Island friend Dick Hawes to mix himself a double in Gordon’s honor.  We aren’t martini drinkers, Nyel and I, — weren’t even back in the day, although I think when Nyel was a drinkin’ man, he’d have one with Gordon on his birthday.  Dick would join Gordon in a martini or two whenever, birthday or no birthday.  Still would!

From my old Bay House Memory Book

Sadly, Dick had called to tell of the death of another old friend, Jim Lucus.  It was actually through Jim that Dick and I met forty-some years ago.  My friendship with Jim  dissolved shortly after I moved up here from California but, over the years, each of us maintained contact with Dick.  Ironically, Dick mentioned that Jim’s health had been iffy for a few years and, the last time they had talked, Jim said he was hopeful that he could enjoy a good martini again soon.

Cheers Gordon and Jim!  I hope you are sharing all the martinis your hearts desire.  And, Gordon… same time next year for your 95th!

A Century And More Ago

Tuesday, June 30th, 2020

Medora’s Locket

Every once in a while, it seems important to go back in time for a little reality check.  My “go-back-to” place is often family correspondence.  It’s sort of my own, personal “On This Date In History” experience.  So, I wondered this morning what was happening on the last day of June in my Aunt Medora’s life?  She was my mother’s oldest sister — born January 3, 1899 and died unexpectedly in her sleep of a Cerebral Hemorrhage on January 16, 1916 — just two weeks after her seventeenth birthday.

DIARY            WEDNESDAY,  JUNE 30, 1915            DIARY
 3125 Claremont Ave. Berkeley, Calif.

Do you realize Diary that I am in California, the land of our dreams?  Those two weeks at home intervening between the eleventh and the twenty-sixth were very busy days.  We packed, cleaned house, and did general overhauling…We left Saturday morning on the early train…arrived in Astoria about eleven; then followed a weary wait till three when the Rose City left.  We had two large staterooms opening on deck.  Only Sue was sick crossing the bar.  Sunday morning was delightful, so calm and sunny.  Just before lunch I got acquainted with…Clarence Hickock from Portland. We sat up on deck all afternoon and talked…

The Espy Children in 1913 – Dale, 2; Willard, 3; Edwin, 5; Mona 9; Sue, 10; Medora, 14.

Monday morning we arrived.  Grandpa, Eva, Ruth, Buelah, Uncle Sid and Uncle Bert met us.  Clarence asked to call.  Ha ha!  San Francisco is the thriving bustling metropolis of old; the bay, the fog and wind are all the same.  But as we rode through Oakland I could see the difference.  Out here in Berkeley are many beautiful homes. Aunt Maud’s is very attractive, every little detail is so perfect, and the whole house is very artistic…

What a difference a century makes!  I wonder if any fifteen-year-old girl anyplace in the world could write of their day today with such quiet innocence and pleasure.  I also wonder if someone looking back one hundred and five years from now would feel that ours is a time of calm in comparison to what might be going on then.  A horrible thought, indeed!




Gone! A BANd-aid Approach to Morality?

Sunday, June 14th, 2020

Classic Elmer Fudd

Have you heard?  Elmer Fudd has turned in his gun.  Now he’s going to carry a scythe when he hunts down that pesky wabbit, Bugs Bunny.

Never mind that a scythe is a lot scarier with its Grim Reaper connotations that Elmer’s old shotgun ever was.  Or, so it seems to me.  And, we are reassured, Yosemite Sam is being stripped of his gun, as well.  It’s all in the name of  a new stance on gun violence by Warner Bros.

The All New Elmer Fudd

But it is also pointed out that “cartoon violence” is still alive and well in the relaunch of the old classics.  There will be plenty of dynamite and explosives.  Even though the characters have been stripped of their wight to bear arms, I guess we can still be vewy vewy afraid!

And then there’s “Gone With The Wind.”  It’s being pulled from HBO Max “for a time” because, in its portrayal of the antebellum South and the Reconstruction Period, “the film romanticizes slavery as a benign and benevolent institution,” according to Jacqueline Stewart.  She is a University of Chicago professor of cinema studies and director of the nonprofit arts organization, Black Cinema House, and in September 2019, she became the first African-American host of Turner Classic Movies.

Vivien Leigh and Hattie McDaniel in Gone With The Wind

Stewart’s commentary, “Why we can’t turn away from Gone with the Wind” is well worth reading. Her thoughtful discussion of historical context, censorship, Black Performance,  and trenchant racism goes far beyond the film industry’s knee-jerk reaction and band aid approach to “fixing” issues rife in our culture.  Before forming your own opinion, I urge you to read hers: Then,  see “Gone With the Wind” one more time.



Those were the days, my friends…

Tuesday, May 5th, 2020

I’ve just finished reading (or probably re-reading, though it surely didn’t seem familiar) Dick Francis’s book The Edge.  Written in 1988, it dealt with the fictional “Great Transcontinental Mystery Race Train” and, though I’ve never traveled by train in Canada, — or anywhere else after 1964, for that matter — it all seemed wonderfully familiar.

I have made transcontinental trips in North America, however — three of them here in the United States, from Boston to Portland and back in the summers of 1938, 1939 and at Christmas in 1946, the same trip, though the other way ’round.  I have few memories of the first two journeys.  I was 2-1/2 and 3-1/2 and made the trips with my mother from Boston where we lived to Portland, Oregon and then, of course, on by car to Oysterville to visit my Granny and Papa.

My mother told me two things about those trips.  On each of them, all I was interested in doing was walking the length of the train and back, through the many cars and over the scary couplings between them. Over and over again!  She claimed that we walked the full 3,000-mile distance to Oysterville!  And, secondly, after my first terrifying trip to the bathroom where you could see the railroad tracks when you flushed, I simply refused to go.  Period.  I didn’t have any “accidents;”  I just shut down.

My mother was fit-to-be-tied and finally appealed to the conductor who found a little potty and then, apparently, the problem was solved.  I think it might have been that same conductor who took pity on her and offered to do the walking with me for some of the time.  (I always did like a man in uniform!)

During the war when we lived in Alameda California and  had no car, we travelled by Pullman train from Oakland to Portland and always had a sleeping berth which the porter made up while we were eating dinner in the dining car.  Once or twice we made the trip at Christmas and I remember that the train was jam-packed with servicemen going home on furlough for the holidays.

“The Shasta Daylight”

By the time I was a teenager, Southern Pacific’s Shasta Daylight was making the trip — which they advertised as “a fast 15-hour-30-minute schedule in either direction for the 713-mile  trip through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery of any train in North America.”  I travelled back and forth several times that way, once with my Aunt Mona, once with my mother, and once with my best friend Joanne Bruner.  (All I remember about that particular trip is that Joanne and I made ourselves sick on fig newtons.  I still can’t eat them.)

In the fifties and early sixties, I travelled a little by train in England and Europe but found that it was less expensive in the long run to buy a car and then bring it back to the U.S. at the end of the summer.  And, besides, we weren’t stuck on the main rail routes that way and could really get away from the beaten path.  We were living on Arthur Frommer’s recommended $5.00 a day and travel was far cheaper by car if you could manage the initial outlay.

I don’t really miss train travel. Even back then, I found it more “romantic” to talk about it or see in the movies than to actually experience it.  But I am sorry that most of our recent generations haven’t had the opportunity — just like I’m sorry I didn’t have my grandparents’ experiences with horses, carriages, and buggies.  Again, it probably sounds more appealing than it was.

PGD may have come and gone…

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Nyel with “Boy Cat”-1975

Somehow, amid the discussions about the Personal Grooming Day possibility and other adventures made necessary by our compliance to sheltering… Nyel opted out of the haircut and beard-trimming part.  At least for the nonce.

I do believe his decision was prompted through a journey back in time.  Somehow, he broke out a big packet of pictures — photos of family and friends and people he now has no memory of.  Most, of course, aren’t labeled and if he didn’t recognize the people or places, he put them in the discard pile.  That, as might be expected, made me (“the- hoarder” he said — “the historian” I insisted) a bit crazy.

Nyel and Sylvia, 1975

So far the “discussion” is unresolved and the photos are re-stuffed into the envelope awaiting resolution.  Meanwhile, I was introduced to old girlfriends, a former wife, his father’s wayward brothers and much much more.  After 36 years of togetherness, even the exes had lost their intrigue — at least to me.  Still… it doesn’t seem right to just pitch them.

The pictures of Nyel in the 70s, however, were worth the journey!  Finally, I can see exactly what shade of red he’s been trying (unsuccessfully) to describe all these years. And I think I’m detecting a strong glimmer of nostalgia attached to that decision not to trim his hair.  Or beard.  I’ve tried to gently explain that forgoing the haircut in the here and now won’t exactly get us back to those good ol’ days…

Stay tuned!


Sometimes answers are hard to come by…

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Nyel and Noel in the ’90s… but where?

We’ve arrived at that time in our lives when our friends are down-sizing and re-organizing and we have become recipients of some of their memories — mostly in the form of photographs.  With most of them, we find we are hard-pressed to answer all of those who-what-when-where-why questions.  But we love trying!

Yesterday, Pat Thomas sent a picture of Nyel and Noel.  “Wow!  I still had some color in my beard!” was Nyel’s first comment.  Judging by his glasses, we think the photo was taken in the mid-to-late nineties. Although both men look fully engaged in the conversation, Nyel has absolutely no memory of its subject and neither of us can identify where it took place.  Not our house.  Not Patty and Noel’s.  Where is the big question on that one!

Mom, Nanci, Jimella at the Ark in the ’90s

Nanci Main recently sent some photos she ran across of  herself with my mother and Jimella at the Ark.  Mom appears to be on her own so I think it was after Dad died in 1991.  The glasses and cane suggest that it may have been as late as 2005 or 2004 when she was 94 or 95, but my memory says she was  probably younger than that — maybe 90!  What a gal!

Although I’d like to remember more concerning the circumstances of these long-ago pictures, I’m not overly stressed about the parts that are foggy.  I actually remember a lot less about many of my much more recent activities.  Like… was it yesterday or the day before that I last had my  car keys?

Raise your hand if you remember!

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Learning About The Olden Days

“Do you miss teaching?” my friend, Miki, asked me.  “No!  Not a bit!” was my instant retort.  Since this is the first year of her retirement as opposed to my twentieth, I thought that maybe the question was more a reflection of her own feelings than an interest in mine.  But, as I thought about it, I back-pedaled a bit.

“Actually I don’t miss the job,” I said.  “But I truly miss the kids — the first, second, and third graders.  I miss the incredibly cogent things they say.  I miss their unfiltered look at the world.  I miss their artwork and their wonderful journal entries.  And I miss reading aloud to them and explaining ‘hard stuff’ and seeing those aha moments when it would all become clear.”

All Aboard in Kelso!

Miki nodded and murmured in agreement.  “Yes!  It’s the kids and the real teaching I miss,” she said.  “Not all the proscribed, lock-step, formulaic stuff that we had to test them on again and again ad nauseam.”

I don’t know if I said, “Yes, the things the textbook companies say are important and the testing companies are making millions from.  Corporate America has been in the classroom for a very long time.”  But even if I didn’t say it this time, Miki and I have had this discussion before.  And will probably have it again.

Easel Painting

Sometimes I think that public school teaching and our political system ran amok at about the same time.  I think both were better in the 1960s when I was yet a new teacher and a young voter.   I am thankful for those years — the years we could teach kids what they wanted and needed to learn (not teach them to simply pass tests) and we still felt that we could make a difference in the voting booth!

Raise your hand if you remember…


Rainy Day Lunch and Laughter

Friday, January 24th, 2020

Barbara Bennett Parsons

We met at the Roo at High Noon — Cherry, Barbara, and I.  We hadn’t seen one another for years — certainly not all of us together — but we decided it was a lunch long overdue.  It’s not just that Barbara now lives in Hoquiam.  It’s not just that Cherry is still “working” — well, it’s volunteering but it’s every day, everywhere, on a regular basis.  Like a job.  And it’s certainly not just that I seem to always have more on my plate than I can get to.  No. None of these.

Barbara Bennett Parsons lived on the Peninsula in the 1980s.  Perhaps you remember her North Head Gallery where she sold her father Elton Bennett’s artwork as well as the work of other artists, mostly local.  Cherry Harding worked in the Gallery and later would work in the Bookvendor — first for Gordon and later for us.  It seems as if we’ve known one another always but, really how did we meet??

Cherry Harding

We tried to reconstruct all that over sandwiches and rice and bean bowls but we got stuck on the dates.  “When did you come to the Peninsula?” I asked Cherry.  “Let’s see… maybe 1989…”  “Really?  Are you sure it wasn’t ’79?”  “No….”  And we all laughed.  In fact, we laughed and talked and remembered all through lunch and, suddenly, three hours had gone by!

Missing was Sharon VanHuiet,  now living in California in a care facility.  And Lucille Pierce who, at 97, has given up driving here from Portland… “Not that the drive is difficult,” she said when she last came on her own two years ago.  “It’s just that I get so sleepy.  I know to pull over and take a nap for 15 or 20 minutes and then I’m fine.  But I have to do that so often nowadays that it takes way too long to get to the beach!”  But she promises to come in summer when her daughter will be here to do the driving.

Gordon Schoewe (1926-2014)

And we lamented our friends who are no longer with us — Gordon Schoewe and Charles and Kaye Mulvey and, of course, Cherry’s Jack.  “Did you ever know Maureen Mulvey?” Barbara asked.  “Such a warm nurturing, wonderful woman.  When I was a shy little girl and came with my folks [Elton and Charles were good friends] she always had time to visit with me.  All by myself.  That was a huge gift!”

Just as this gift of friendship is huge, I thought!  How wonderful that we can stay connected.  We decided we’d do it again in the Spring — maybe four times a year would be good.  “If we can remember…” Cherry and I said.  We put Barbara in charge of scheduling.  She’s younger by at least a generation!

And, besides everything else, the lunch was terrific!