Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

Books, covers, and what you can tell…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

The “Sequel” is Coming

So… the publisher has sent the book cover for my approval and, thus far, I’m having a love/hate reaction.  I love how it looks — the Oysterville Church, gorgeous as always, and with a rather ominous background that seems ghostly, indeed.  But I hate the implications with the picture situtated, as it is, right below the title: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.

Perhaps I’m being super-sensitive, but the insinuation (at least to me) is that the church, itself, is haunted. It is not. Never has been.  Nor has there ever been an idle rumor to that effect.  But, sure as shooting, if the book wears that cover, the “reports” will begin and before you know it the TV cameras and the ghost-busters will arrive…  Or, that is my fear.

I expressed my concerns to my editor who, I hasten to say, has been great!  She is in consultation with the cover designer to see what can be done.  I thought it might be easier to change the title than to find a different, more suitable photograph but she said that it’s too late.  It’s been “finalized and logged for their retailers” which I guess means the word about the book is being circulated as we speak.

Stay tuned for Book Launch information!

Maybe that old adage “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” will hold true and people will realize that there are no stories in this one about the church being haunted.  On the other hand, perhaps the article by Corinne A. Kratz of Emory University in the May 1994 Cultural Anthropology journal is right.  In “Telling/Selling A Book By It’s Cover” she wrote:  “… a cover is a marketing device, an aesthetic prduction, and a representation that may relate to the book’s content. What picture can help sell a thousand books?”

Or maybe my concerns are for nothing.  Maybe I should just be content with the thought that the reading public has more sense than we credit them with.  Maybe…

Shoulda… Woulda… Couldn’t

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

A Sign of Summers Past

In a normal world (and, hopefully, in the new normal world, whenever that arrives) this should/would have been the last Sunday of Music Vespers at the Oysterville Church.  Without our usual three o’clock Sunday services, it has seemed a strange summer, indeed.

To us, it has been the most noticeable of all the oddities of this Sheltering Summer.  Not only because we have attended since “the beginning” (some 40 years ago) and not only because we have often participated in the programs, but also because we are right across the street in the once-upon-a-time parsonage.  There is an almost visceral connection between this house and the church.

Vespers July 15, 2013

I’m sure it has always been so.  The church, funded by R.H. Espy was completed in the fall of 1892 and was dedicated on October 9th of that year.  In June 1893, the first full-time pastor arrived.  Rev. Josiah Crouch and his family were ensconsed in this house which Deacon Espy had purchased for the purpose.

For the first time since the Baptist Church had been established in Oysterville in 1871, the little congregation had both a house of worship and a parsonage for their minister.  Heretofore, they had met at Deacon Espy’s home each week and, if an itinerant minister was not available, one of the congregation led the service.  When the Crouch family arrived there was great rejoicing on the part of the Oysterville Baptists.

Susan Waters, PhD – at Vespers, June 23, 2019

Now, of course, the little church is owned by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, it is ecumenical and no longer denominational, and it is used for many purposes.  The only regular services occur on summer Sundays from Father’s Day through Labor Day Sunday.  Except for this year when they couldn’t.

…Until Further Notice…

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

Closed Until Further Notice

Yesterday the “Church Open” sign came down and a “Closed Until Further Notice” sign went up at the Historic Oysterville Church.  Partly, the change was made because of Governor Inslee’s new directive, effective Monday, that gatherings should be limited to ten people and partly because, despite the previous sign on the door requesting that visitors wear masks and maintain social distancing, few if any were doing so.

Neighbors Tucker and Carol – Photo by Peter Janke

In fact, on any given day this summer, the visitors entering and leaving the church far outnumber “Downtown Oysterville’s” total population and, sadly, very few are masked.  Typically, the only masks we see here on an average day are worn by residents.  Too, we were informed a few days ago by a tour director that she had taken a group of ten into the church — all on her own without any official sanction from the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.  Unfortunately, without someone at the door 24/7 to monitor who and how folks enter, there is no way to insure even a modicum of safety for anyone.  Sad but true.

Sign Of The Times

I’m pretty sure the visitors will still come.  Even when the church is open, many people stop only long enough to take a picture and don’t take time to go inside.  And, by far the greatest number of tourists walk the lanes and roads enjoying the vistas and the quiet ambiance of the village.  “Being able to go inside the church is extra icing on the cake” a woman once told me.  For those of us who think icing is the best part, it’s now once more thing to look forward to at the end of this long, difficult siege.


Paranoia or Good Instincts? Hard to tell.

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Local Color

During the three-day weekend, we were mostly in the house, the weather being only so-so.  We did work in the garden for a while on Saturday and, of course, I was outside early and late and in between doing my due diligence with the chickens.  Since we didn’t leave our own property and had no visitors, we spent the entire weekend sans masks.

So did most other people, apparently.  Each time I glanced out our west windows or over the west fence I saw what I have come to think of as the unmasked multitudes.  Mostly, they arrived by cars in groups — presumably family members or close friends.  There were also a number of Oysterville property owners here with friends and relatives and walking hither and thither but, also, sans masks.

Many of the visitors went into the church and, though most paused long enough to at least glance at the sign posted on the door, no masks appeared going in or coming out.  On multiple occasions, the church door was left open after the visitors had come and gone.

White Pelicans Over Oysterville – Photo by Tucker

That’s not an unusual occurrence, but what used to be usual was my knee-jerk response of going over to close the door.  This weekend I left it open as I’ve been doing since the first part of March.  My gut tells me that if some of those unmasked visitors have the virus, their very breathing could contaminate the air.  And, my instinct tells me that the contaminated air lingers…

I was willing to admit to a good dose of paranoia until I heard an epidemiologist’s report on NPR this morning that… guess what?  There is growing evidence that Covid-19 particles can aerosolize and that these minute particles can stay in the air for many hours causing potential aerosolized transmission.  Not only coughing and sneezing can generate those particles; plain old breathing through your nose can, too!

Our Garden in July

Hooray for my instincts!  Hooray for everyone who wears masks, even in spaces that seem benign!   And, for the record, on Friday a whole group of folks were visiting in Oysterville with masks on!  Yay!  I actually went outside and called “thank you” to them and, as it turned out, some of the group were local and knew me.  Such a bright spot in my day.  Too bad it didn’t happen again.  And again and again…

Let’s hear it for the brides!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Oysterville Church, Aug. 18, 2019 – A Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

It is my pleasure — right now, my painful pleasure — to be the scheduler for weddings at the Oysterville Church.  Summer, of course, is usually our biggest “wedding season” but this year has been a bit different, to say the least.  As of a few days ago, we had two weddings scheduled for June, five for July, and one for August.

Gradually, bride by bride, the weddings are being postponed — one moved to September, one to November, and one to the summer of 2021!  I commend each of these women and their fiancés!  Moving the date of your wedding isn’t simply moving the date of your wedding.  In many cases, it’s changing your entire future!

Over the years, I’ve talked with brides who will be moving to new homes or new jobs after their wedding and I’ve spoken with brides and grooms who will be blending families, and with grooms who are in the service and will be marrying while on leave — wanting a church wedding no matter what.  There are stories and dreams and  sacrifices in every single wedding story that I hear.

Brigid and Bob with Officiant Barbara Bate, 2009

For brides to email me and say, “I guess we have no choice but to move our date” or “Thank you.  We’ll be in touch and please stay well!” tells me that, at least Oysterville-wise, we’ll be getting through all this with grace and with dreams for a better future solidly in place.

Who would ever have thought that it would be the brides and grooms who would have the good sense to look at our situation rationally and with concern and compassion.  I am SO impressed?  Bravo to all of them!

Front Row Seats To A Peak Performance!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Looking Up Up Up!

The swallows have been back at our house for a month or so but, for the first time in years, they are building their nests in new places.  They did scope out their old haunts —  six or seven of them above the eastside kitchen window and in every upper corner of the once-upon-a-time back porch.  They stuck up their beaks at all of them, apparently eschewing the fact that most swallows return to the same colony generation after generation, with 44 percent of pairs reoccupying the same nest.  Studies show that a good nest may be used for 10-15 years by a series of different pairs.

Granted, last year’s used (and reused ad infinitum) nests have been gone since late last fall — the final sacrifice made to benefit our summer house-painting project.  Over the years, nest disappearance has occurred here periodically and the swallows, seemingly undeterred, have rebuilt in exactly the same spots.  Not this year.  Perhaps it has to do with social distancing.

Precarious Perch

So far, two nests are completed — one just under the west peak of the roof, tucked under the eaves and up so high it’s hard to see; the other impossibly constructed at the bend in a drainpipe coming from the gutter under the eaves on the south side of the house.  In both cases, Mom and Pop Swallow seem a bit smug.  “Try and raze our place this time!” they seem to say as they swoop back and forth.

There was one aborted attempt to rebuild atop the window frame on our porch.  I think it was the drainpipe couple.  I really hope so.  Their current choice is so much better, all the way around.  No mess for us groundlings to deal with and, hopefully, a softer, not a lethal, landing should one of the babies plunge earthward.  (Last year, we found a fledgling on the porch — perhaps a victim of overconfidence about being ready to fly.)

The Church Colony Begins

As for the church — despite efforts by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation to discourage the swallows, they are back in force.  The activity has been unceasing as they have flown back and forth, back and forth, building their nests under the sloping eaves.  They are cliff swallows — cousins to the barn swallows across the street here, at our place.

Their sturdy mud nests (each made with up to 1,000 mud pellets!) have a small, round opening so eggs and babies will be protected against predators.  Watching the parents fly, unerringly and at top speed, in to feed their babies is a sight to behold.

Whether we are inside or out, we have front row seats to the best show in town!  Facing prolonged sheltering isn’t half so bad with such ongoing entertainment (and education) in store!  Let’s hear it for the birds!  And especially the swallows!


Just when I thought I could breathe again…

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Jay and the Finished Product!

Yesterday, our friend Jay finished painting the east (the front) of our house.  It was the last portion of the house to be done.  He’s refurbished each side over the past few years and saved “the best for last” — or something like that.  It is definitely the side with the most gingerbread, the highest gable peaks and, from my point of view, the scariest ladder approaches.  I mostly couldn’t look.

Consequently, I have no photographs of Jay at work on the house, much to my chagrin.  In fact, the only picture I took of Jay-at-work this time around was one of him painting the post that holds up the bird feeder!  It was a complete serendipity painting-wise — not at all part of the plan.  “I just thought it should look nice for your Grand Affair,” Jay said.  What a guy!

Tucker at the bottom; Jay at the top

But even as he was beginning to pack up his truck yesterday, Tucker was crossing the street to talk with him.  Apparently, the two had talked before and Jay had agreed to use his long extension ladder to climb up to the steeple and have a look at the church bell.  It sometimes gets stuck in the upside-down position and, for several years, has sounded more like a cowbell than a church bell.  Tucker had asked Jay if he’d take a look.

So it was that yesterday afternoon, Jay climbed to the top of his ‘leventy-‘leven foot ladder, exited at the top and knelt on the outer edge of the steeple to take a look.  (My palms are sweating as I write this; I can’t believe I actually took a picture of “Jay at the Top!”)  Unfortunately, he was in his painting-whites and he sort of blends in with the steeple but, he’s documented none-the-less!

His report:  the bell-rope is very frayed and needs replacing and the bell is iron, not bronze, so it has become rusty since 1892 — which may account for the ‘cowbell’ sound.  “Every time you ring it, a shower of rust comes down.  Eventually, it might sound better,” Jay laughed.

Tucker will talk to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation Board of Trustees.  His recommendation:  replace the rope and then ring the bell on every possible occasion to see if we can improve the sound.  Yay!   I know the brides and grooms would be pleased (they often ask for permission) and wouldn’t it be great to toll the bell before every Vespers service in the summer?  I’m all for it!

Music Vespers Today! Three O’clock!

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Ready for Vespers, 2014

There aren’t many places as peaceful in the early morning — even on an early Sunday morning — as our little Oysterville Church.  Today it’s my turn to “do” the Oysterville Moment which is actually a volunteer activity with far more to it than meets the eye — none of it onerous.  Usually.  (Today, though, there was dog poop under one of the pews in the church!  OMG!)

If you have ever been to the Oysterville Music Vespers series, you may know that toward the beginning of the program an Oysterville Restoration Foundation member gets up and welcomes everyone, including the minister, the organist, and the musicians.  But, even if you don’t really remember that part, you may recall that there is a story or a memory told.  Usually it pertains to Oysterville or the historic little church and often it’s about long ago.  It’s the “Oysterville Moment” for that Sunday.

What you may not know is that the person whose turn it is to present the Moment has other responsibilities as well.  That morning, the church is swept and tidied, the chairs are set out in the Sunday school room, the old hymnals are laid out on pews and chairs, and  flower arrangements are placed on the piano and organ.

Tucker’s Oysterville Moment – Summer 2014

About 2:30 — a half hour before Vespers begins — the Oysterville Moment volunteer (the OMV??)returns to stand in the vestibule.  There, he or she greets those who enter, handing out the bulletin for the service and making introductions if the minister, organist, and musicians don’t know one another.

Later, they are responsible for coordinating the ushers for the collection  — although Tucker has been doing that part of things lately.    Finally, after the service is over, it is the OMV’s responsibility to return hymnals to the closet (there’s always a lot of help with that!), make sure windows are closed, and remove the flowers.

For the first sixteen years of Vespers, my mother and father did it all — mostly my mom did the “Moment” and dad did the rest!.  For the next twenty, Nyel and I “inherited” the job and the division of labor was similar..  For the past five years, though, it’s been a responsibility shared by Oysterville residents.  I love it when it’s my turn!  But, truth to tell, I’m glad to just be part of the congregation most Sundays.

Cate and Starla Gable. 2019

Oh — and did I say that today the minister is Anna Haugen of the Chinook Lutheran Church? I’ve not yet met her but feel I know her.  My college roommate was named Anne Haugen and I’m eager to ask Pastor Anna if there is a connection. Our stalwart organist is Sandy Nielson who volunteered to do three extra Sundays when we couldn’t find enough volunteer organists.  And today’s featured musicians are Cate and Starla Gable who tell me that they are going to have a surprise for us — a third “guest musician!”   Wow!  It’s going to be fabulous!

A Fine Kettle of Fish!

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

Dr. Jung Sun Kang

At Jung Sun Kang’s concert yesterday at the Oysterville Church (which was fabulous, by the way, and presented to a full house) I noticed a little glitch on the front of the program (which was also otherwise fabulous!)  The Oysterville Church’s address was given as 33590 Territory Road, Ocean Park, 98640.

“Ocean Park?  98640?  Well, that’s a fine kettle of fish!” I thought.  So, this morning when I learned that Jung Sun Kang had written up the program, herself, I went online to Google Search and looked up the address.  That’s where I’d go if I were looking for an address in an unfamiliar area.  Sure enough!  “Ocean Park, WA 98640” was how it was listed!  I used their suggested “Correct” option and fixed both the town and the zip code.

(I think this address error has something to do with the U.S. Post Office.  In Oysterville, if you don’t want a P.O. Box, you can have your mail delivered but since only Ocean Park delivers, you must sacrifice the Oysterville address.  In point of fact, however, our church doesn’t get all that much mail.  If you do need to send something to the church, it needs to go to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, P.O. Box 71, Oysterville, WA 98641,)

Concert Program

I don’t know about the street number, either.   I have my doubts that it is correct.  We live on Territory Road across from the church and our number also ends in an even number.  I’m thinking that one or the other ought to end with an odd number and probably it’s the church since it is on the west side of the street.  Also, although our house is farther north, the number is higher.  I think the numbers go down as you travel north on the Peninsula.  Don’t they?  Maybe the correct number is listed with the assessor’s office.  When I have time…

Meanwhile, I’m thinking about “a fine kettle of fish” – the expression, that is.  My friend Sue and I were talking about that one and several others that our mothers used to use – wonderful old-fashioned expressions that you don’t hear much anymore.   “Feeling in fine fettle” is another.  Which led me to think about words that end in “ettle.”   Apparently, there are only six base words with that spelling:  fettle, kettle, mettle, nettle, pettle, and settle.  That next-to-last one is of Scottish derivation and means to cuddle.  It should be used “with an object” said  Who knew?

This is why I don’t get anything done…

The View from Across the Street

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Tucker’s photograph of our house taken through the Sunday School window across the street has immediately gone right to the top of my all-time favorite images!  It was among the many photos he took to accompany my article for the Chinook Observer about the recent renovation of the historic Oysterville Church. The picture appeared on page A8 of yesterday’s paper but, unfortunately, space dictated that it be smallish and its impact was , therefore, smallish as well.   For a really good look at this stunning image, check out the online version at  Fabulous!

As I wrote in the caption (all of which appears online but not in the hard copy of the paper): The history of the Oysterville Church restoration can be seen through the window looking east from the Sunday School room toward Territory Road. Through the top panes, the view is wavy, like the old panes, themselves. The bottom left pane is less wavy, perhaps replaced in a former restoration, and the bottom right pane is quite clear, probably one of the two replacements needed during the project just completed.

Which brings us to the (often misunderstood) wavy glass phenomenon, itself.  Contrary to what you may have heard, window panes don’t “become” wavy over time because of gravity.  It’s the way they were/are made in the first place that determines their clarity and, if you are interested in replacing an old broken pane, you can (for a price) still buy wavy glass.  There are many sites on the internet that explain the manufacturing methods and how the advent of more modern techniques in the 1890s resulted in clear window glass rather than the old, wavy type.

I love it that we have some of each kind – though mostly wavy – in the church!  And I especially love it that Tucker captured that particular piece of church history with this wonderful photograph.