Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

Temporarily Out of Order

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2019

Oysterville Church, January 2019

It’s not the first time the Oysterville Church has been boarded up, and I hope it won’t be the last.  Boarded up means that there is restoration work going on.  This time it’s a major window project – frames, sills, sashes, and any of the other wooden parts that have need of repair.  For some of the thirteen windows, it’s been since 1980 that they received any TLC.  For others, it’s been since the beginning – 1892!

In my childhood, the church was boarded up as well.  Then, however, it was the belfry.  I think it had been covered sometime in the early 1930s to keep the rain from coming inside.  I don’t think it was repaired until the big restoration in 1980.  By the 1930s, the Baptists no longer had an active presence in Oysterville and there was no “responsible party” (read anyone with deep pockets) who could manage to take on a project as extensive as the church restoration.

Oysterville Baptist Church c. 1930

It was not until the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) was formed in the late 1970s that funds could be obtained through grants and donations to repair and refurbish the old building.  It is an ongoing responsibility and one that ORF members accept with pride.  We love our old church and keeping it in good order is our primary focal point.  We couldn’t do it, however, without the interest and concern of a whole host of others – those who attend vespers each summer and donate to the collection baskets; those who rent the church for marriages or other ceremonies; those who contribute to the Poor Box when visiting.

Window Project, Oysterville Church 2019

I’d like to give a shout-out to our present ORF Board Members – David Williams, Cyndy Hayward, Paul Staub, Martie Killmer, and Carol Wachsmuth.  They are arranging for and overseeing a whole host of projects for the church – not only new windows, but new wallpaper and perhaps a more modern and efficient heating system.  And that’s probably not all!  While I’m sorry that we cannot schedule any activities in the church until March, I’m greatly looking forward to the facelift!   Stay tuned!

Concerning Roses and the Oysterville Church

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Oysterville Church On Its 10th Anniversary, 1902

In Act II, Scene II of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” young Juliet says:  What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.  I think of those words now and again when things near and dear to my heart are not given their due.   Or when they are confused with something else.

In the last two days, such has been the case of the Oysterville Church.  Twice.  Yesterday, someone mistakenly thought the Church came under the auspices of the Oysterville Community Club (abbreviated OCC).  Our little church is actually owned and operated by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF).  It’s an easy mistake to make, especially given the size of our village and the fact that there are only two buildings available for public use – the schoolhouse and the church.  The schoolhouse, still owned by the Ocean Beach School District, is managed by the OCC.  The church is another matter.

Oysterville Schoolhouse, 1940s

Not only do people confuse who owns which building, they get the buildings themselves confused.  Mostly, those are people not overly familiar with Oysterville.  After all, both structures have a belfry.  Historically, both have been painted white.  Both are “old-fashioned” – built within 15 years of each other.  The church was built in 1892; the schoolhouse in 1907.  Perhaps if you’ve only seen them once or twice, you could get mixed up.  Perhaps.

But even worse than getting the church’s ownership confused is getting its location wrong!  This very morning, I received an email that said: I am happy to tell you that Oysterville Church was chosen for the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards in the category of Church. The Best of Ocean Park Award was created to acknowledge the best businesses in our community.

Oysterville Church by Bob Duke

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Ocean Park is a fine community.  But it is not Oysterville.  Our little Historic Church defines our National Historic District and is symbolic of our Oysterville community which was the first to be established on the west side of Shoalwater Bay back in 1854.  Until the 1880s, it was the ONLY community on the Peninsula and it is, nowadays, the oldest village in Pacific County.  Choosing our church for “the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards” is just plain wrong.  No matter how the roses smell!

Never-ending Entertainment and Inspiration

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

Capturing Doorknob Detail

The church across the street is what I’m talking about here – a constant source of pleasure!  And, this time, I’m not talking about what happens inside it’s hallowed walls, either.  I don’t have to set foot over the threshold to be mesmerized by the building and its calling.  Heck, I don’t even have to go outside my house.  The view through my dining room windows is sufficient.

Yesterday afternoon when I glanced out, I was rewarded by a sight you don’t see much these days – a photographer with his 8 x 10 view camera set up on the church porch double checking his light meter and, apparently, bracketing his shots.  I don’t think I’ve seen a view camera in Oysterville since 1964 when Marta’s dad, (my then-husband) Bill LaRue was here for a family reunion.  But, in that case, I’m pretty sure it was his 4 x 5 speed graphic, not an 8 x 10.

I went out and asked the photographer if he minded me taking a picture of him with my cell phone.  We both laughed.  It seemed so wrong and yet…  It was he who called himself an anachronism and I who said that he could be speaking of the entire village, so it seemed just right.  We got to talking and it did not surprise me in the least to find that before he began to do serious black and white photography, he was into re-enacting.

“One of them arty fellas,” Bob Meadows would have called him.  (see  “Zane Heath from Aloha, Oregon,” I think he said but he didn’t offer me a business card so I’m not so sure of the spelling.  He told me his work could be seen on Instagram (which I don’t do) and that he had a website (which I can’t find) that deals mostly with his reenactments.  Too bad.  I’d like to see some of his work.

I didn’t tell him – although I’m sure he already knew – that the doorknob on the church has been photographed about a gazillion times now.  (Raise your hand if you’ve done one!) Photographers don’t generally care that they aren’t the “first”.  It’s their own vision and how it’s captured through the lighting and composition and I-don’t-know-what-all that makes a difference.

When I came back inside, I looked through my own photographs and I was amazed that I have not a single photo of that dear old doorknob – not of my own, anyway.  I have only a quick shot that doesn’t even include the striker plate and that was done by Tucker a year or two ago.  It was one of the clues in a scavenger hunt for his grandchildren and friends.

Tucker’s Clue

And, here it is… another day in Beautiful Downtown Oysterville.  What will I see outside my window on this day?

Picture Pluperfect!

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

September 2, 2018

Adj plu-per-fect.  more than perfect; utterly perfect.

“If I had a dollar for every photograph taken of the church…”  I can still see my father shaking his head in amazement at all the attention the little Oysterville Church began to receive in the early 1980s after it had been restored. Make no mistake about it though, he took his share of pictures too.  And why not?  The little building seems the iconic symbol of 19th century rural village life and most especially so with a bright coat of fresh paint.

This past week, the painters hired by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation arrived.  They came early on Monday and I think there were three of them, but they worked more efficiently and faster than I could keep up with.  First, they pressure-washed and painted the fence.  On both sides in one day!  Then they began scraping paint from the church, itself.  They began in the front and on the north side – up-close and personal, board by board.  Then pressure-washing using generator and manlift and carefully aimed water.  Abandoned swallows nests: gone.  Peeling paint: gone.  Mossy, mildewy areas: clean!  Mess: none!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The weather cooperated and the painting began before I’d had my second cup of coffee on Wednesday.   A painter on the roof… no, two of them up there for a while – on ladders and scaffolding and the manlift again – painting the steeple white and then the red trim. A team spray-painted the walls using a hose and a ladder; the brush man was close behind painting the trim around the windows.  So quick.  So deft.  A pleasure to watch.

They worked late on Saturday – until 7:30 or so when the light gave out.  All the equipment was gone by Sunday morning – except for the portable generator which they tucked into the north end of the churchyard.  All was in readiness for the final Music Vespers service yesterday. In less than a week!  Truly a miracle of the first order.  There may be finishing touches to take care of in the coming days but, once again, the little church is more than picture perfect!

Yesterday on Territory Road

Thursday, August 23rd, 2018

Edwardian Visitors

Among the usual stream of visitors to the church yesterday were a group of people who could have stepped right out of an early 1900s photograph – except that they were animated and in full color.  We had seen them earlier in the day in Long Beach where they were at one of the pocket parks enjoying a picnic lunch.  They seemed ‘picture

perfect’ in Oysterville so I grabbed my camera and went out to talk to them.

It turned out that they were members of the Edwardian Society of Oregon and were on one of their periodic outings.  According to the information on their website “We enjoy the style and spirit of the Edwardian era, approximately 1900 to 1919. Although this time in history was brief, its impact on the 20th century was huge. We will explore the ideas, arts, culture and style of the Edwardian era through our activities.”

Oysterville Baptist Congregation, 1902

Before I could ask permission to take a picture, I was pressed into service to photograph them in front of the church using their cameras and I hoped against hope that my usual shaky hands would behave.  It turned out that we knew people in common and, since they so perfectly represented the era in which my grandparents moved into the erstwhile parsonage across the street, I impulsively asked them in for a quick peek.  (Nyel, bless him, took it all in stride, acting the perfect host, as usual.)

They left with Oysterville Walking Tour brochures in hand and I couldn’t help wishing that it was one of our Vesper bulletins, instead.  On the front of those bulletins is a 1902 photograph of the Baptist congregation gathered in front of the church when it was but ten years old.  My grandfather and his two oldest children (Medora who was 3 and Albert, 2) are in that photo.

The visit by the Edwardian Society of Oregon seemed fitting, indeed.

Oysterville Music Vespers 2018

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

Beginning Sunday, June 17th!

In Oysterville, Father’s Day and the opening of our annual Music Vespers series at the church are pretty much synonymous. This year they both happen on Sunday, June 17th and it’s coming right up!  Since a number of people have requested the full summer vespers schedule (and even though it’s available at the Visitor’s Center and has been published by the Chinook Observer), I am devoting today’s blog to it.  Suitable for Printing and Posting on your refrigerator.

June 17 – Pastor Mary Evelyn Long, Ocean Park Methodist Church; Music, Casey Killingsworth and Family; Organist, Sandra Nielson; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

June 24 – Pastor Vern Frank, Pacific Bible Church; Music, Double ‘J’ and the Boys; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Anne Driscoll.

July 1 – The Reverend Irene Martin, Episcopal Priest; Music, Singer/Songwriter Fred Carter; Organist Diane Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Diane Buttrell.

July 8 – Deacon Dick Wallace, St. Mary’s Parish; Music, Randal Bays and Family; Organist Dian Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

Rose City Mixed Quartet

July 15 – Father Dick Loop, St. Peter Episcopal Church; Music, Rose City Mixed Quartet; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Nyel Stevens.

July 22 – Deacon Jerry Sadler, St. Mary’s Parish; Music, The Oyster Crackers; Organist, John Balmer; Oysterville Moment, Tucker Wachsmuth.

July 29 – Dr. Barbara Bate, Interdenominational Pastor; Music, Guitarist David Drury; Organist Barbara Bate; Oysterville Moment, Charlotte Jacobs.

August 5 – Deacon Ken Morris, New Life Church; Music, Singer/Songwriter Mary Garvey; Organist, Kristin Hammond; Oysterville Moment, Cyndy Hayward.

August 12 – The Reverend J.D. Maddux, St. John’s Episcopal church, Olympia; Music, Folk Musicians Starla and Cate Gable; Organist, Sandra Nielson; Oysterville Moment, Sydney Stevens.

August 19 – Pastor Don Mower, Family Worship Center; Music, Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Puget Sound; Organist, John Balmer; Oysterville Moment, Susan Holway.

Summer Music Vesper Audience

August 26 – Pastor Greg Ikehara-Martin, Ocean Beach Presbyterian Church; Music, ‘Tanz and Sea Strings’; Organist Suzanne Knutzen; Oysterville Moment, Tucker Wachsmuth.

September 2 – Pat McKibbin Lay Minister; Music, ‘Doug and Joyce (Ukulele and Songs); Organist, Diane Buttrell; Oysterville Moment, Charley Wachsmuth.

All services begin at 3:00 and are open to the public who are encouraged to ‘come as you are’.  Proceeds from the collection basket go toward the upkeep and day-to-day maintenance of the church.  Questions can be directed to Vespers Coordinator Carol Wachsmuth,

See you there!

Sometimes there isn’t any good answer.

Thursday, May 10th, 2018

Oysterville Church Vestibule

It isn’t every day that I meet someone at the church at 8:30 in the morning.  And never has such a rendezvous been in lieu of a midnight meeting!  But, there I was yesterday standing in the doorway to avoid the early morning drizzle, waiting for the reporter from the Tacoma PBS radio station. Actually, he was someone known to me – a local man on a freelance assignment.  But still, it was a little weird.

He had called me a few days earlier saying that the radio station was doing a series on “sacred places.” They were interested in the Oysterville Church because it is open all the time.  “Twenty-four/seven?” he asked.

“They actually suggested that I conduct the interview at midnight,” he said.  I think I laughed – at least a little whoop of incredulity.  “Why?” was my response.  “It’s not like listeners could tell the difference!”

Church Doorknob

But I told him “whatever…” and mentioned that there are no lights in the church.  I also asked if this was a ploy to talk about ghosts.  We’ve turned down ghost-chasers before. “Not at all,” he said.  “They were just curious.” And he suggested we meet in the early morning before visitors began arriving.

He decided that the vestibule was “less echo-y” and so we stood there for twenty minutes or so – he holding the small recorder close to my mouth and I trying to keep my answers to his questions concise and on track.  He had warned me about that – in a nice way.  “I know you could spend an hour or two on any one of the questions I ask,” he had said.  “But it’s supposed to be a fifteen-minute interview.”

Oysterville Church 1902

He asked about the history of the church, why my family was so closely involved with it, how its use has changed since my childhood, and how I feel about the church.  And, of course, why it’s open all the time.  All his questions were easily answered except maybe the last one.  I think the simple truth is, there is no one available to lock and unlock it every day and, thus far, no one has felt it was necessary.

Still and all, the whole thing seemed a bit odd to me.  We could have been sitting across the street at my house in warmth and comfort, instead of standing in the chilly vestibule.  It stretches credulity that such authenticity is needed for a radio interview…  Maybe it will become clear to me when I hear the (edited?) broadcast – presumably next Sunday or the Sunday afterwards.  As they say… stay tuned.

Ready for the Next Million Plus

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

I’m not talking dollars here, although that would be nice.  I’m talking feet – as in pedestrian foot traffic in and out of the Oysterville Church.  Although math has never been my strong suit, I think that over the past forty years, many more than a million feet have walked along the walkway into and out of the church. Now that the walkway has been replaced for the first time since the early eighties, I think it’s ready for the next million or so.

This is how I figured it:  10,000 visitors a year (according to signatures in the guest books) times two feet each is 20,000 steps in – 40,000 when you count the exit process; times 40 (more or less) years.  That makes 1,600,000 feet that have marched, hopped, dragged, or sauntered their owners into our little church to have a look around.  No wonder that wooden walkway needed replacing.

New, also, is the porch deck and the four posts that support the railing. All that’s needed is a little paint and the entrance will be ready for the summer onslaught.  Yay!  Of course, all this begs the greater question of the wear and tear on the church floor within.  The last time it was refinished, as in stripped and sanded and resealed, we were told “that’s it.  The floor will be compromised if another layer comes off.”

And then there are the dear old, uncomfortable pews.  They, too are beginning to show their age.  Who wouldn’t after being sat on for 116 years?  But like Scarlett, I choose to think about that tomorrow.  Or maybe not at all…  As the old Polish proverb goes, “not my circus; not my monkeys.”

Church Work in Oysterville

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

When we say, “There’s a lot of church work going on in town,” it’s a literal statement.  We aren’t referring to the faithful going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Nor are we talking about church ladies slaving away over hot stoves so their husband can take meals to those in need.  No.  We are talking about work of the hammer-and-nails variety.

Day before yesterday the lumber arrived and was stashed in the “rear-behind” (another of my mother’s idiosyncratic expressions) of the church.  Yesterday, the work was to begin… and, eventually did, but not until Friday-the-thirteenth had her way with the workman.  Apparently, there was also lumber waiting at the schoolhouse and, the workman not knowing one steeple from another, went and made some repairs on the schoolhouse porch.  The mistake was discovered only after he had completed the job.  Whoops!

It couldn’t have been too extensive an undertaking because, by late morning, there was a flurry of activity at the church.  The porch railing and supports: down.  The porch deck: gone.  The walkway: cordoned off.  And by day’s end, despite the “Church Open” sign… it wasn’t.  Of course, this morning it is pouring rain, so it remains to be seen if progress will continue apace.

I believe the plan is to replace the walkway, the porch deck, and one of the posts that support the porch railing.  It should be completed in plenty of time for Oysterville’s Memorial Day celebration at the end of May.  Also, perfect timing for a busy summer ahead.  Weddings lined up for the months ahead and, beginning on Father’s Day, June 17th – the 43st annual Music Vespers series gets under way.  Perfect timing, schoolhouse repairs notwithstanding!

Shades of Michelangelo

Saturday, March 24th, 2018

The ceiling of the Oysterville Church is only 17 or 18 feet high.  Nothing like the Sistine Chapel.  And Ray Hansen had plenty of room to stand on the scaffolding.  None of that lying on his back business. But even so, I couldn’t help but make the obvious comparison.  And I wouldn’t have traded places with him for all the pasta in Rome.

Had I been a well person – and how long does this stupid bronchitis last, anyway – I would have been across the street every single day these past few weeks – worrying and fretting in my acrophobic way.  I don’t do well with ladders.  Scaffoldings?  Forget it.  Never mind that he assured me, very seriously, “Before I move, I always look to see exactly where my feet are.”  Yikes!  Instead of seeing to his safety myself. I asked Tucker if he’d take pictures.

As it was, I crossed my mental fingers tight, tight, tight and stayed tucked in safely here at home while progress was being made.  I think my friendship with Ray is still intact.  For sure it would have been a bit fractured, or at least frayed, if I’d been hovering.  Or whatever you call it when you are fretting and carrying on way off in the down-blow.

Meanwhile… the church as never looked better!  The man is pure magic when it comes to peeling and scraping and patching.  Furthermore, he had only scraps and remnants to work with – ends of wallpaper rolls that Nyel, the never-throw-anything-away-guy, has had squirrelled away in our back forty since the wallpaper was restored in the early 1980s.  Through some miracle, there was just enough.  Barely.  And only because Ray is a master of smoke and mirrors and the guild secrets of the wallpaper fraternity.  (Thumb tacks?  You’re using thumbtacks?  Who knew.)

Someday, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation will have to think seriously about re-doing the church wallpaper from start to finish.  Only because of Ray’s TLC over the years have we managed to keep the current paper in place.  I imagine that the day of reckoning will come long after I am gone.  And Ray, too, for that matter.  I hope another Wallpaper Angel surfaces in the meantime.  One with a calm manner and careful feet.  Just like Ray!