Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

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.

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.