Archive for the ‘Oysterville School’ Category

Taking Flight in Oysterville!

Friday, August 11th, 2017

Steve and the Test Pilot

You could have heard a pin drop.  The classroom absolutely thrummed with  concentration.  Twelve young scientists hard at work making… paper airplanes!

It was about 9:30 yesterday morning and I had walked over to the Oysterville School at Diane Buttrell’s invitation.  “Come on over to the Science Academy and see what the kids are up to.”  It was an open invitation and it just happened that yesterday was the day that one of my Oysterville neighbors, Steve Romero, was serving as GE, Guest Expert.

I’m not sure precisely what his topic was – I walked in after the class had begun.  But it seemed like an engineering class to me – or a class in aerodynamics.  Already, after just a half hour into their day, the fourth graders were using terms such as ‘lift’ and ‘thrust’ and ‘nosecones’ and ‘ailerons’.  One youngster served as the test pilot – with Captain status.  They were experimenting with shapes and designs – what did wider wings do?  How about narrower?  Double wings?

Did a plane with a blunt nose do better than one with a pointy nose?  One young scientist attached a paper clip to his plane’s nose.  “Oh!  Good idea!  Let’s see what the extra weight does,” Steve encouraged.   And how about a bigger body?  Or more ailerons?  What if we turn the ailerons up?  Or down?

Diane Buttrell, Founder and CEO – Oysterville Science Academy

In between, the GE suggested kids speculate, analyze, predict, experiment.  He wrote findings on the board – dictated by his fourth-grade engineering crew.  Good results: a happy face.  Poor results: the opposite. How do you spell aileron?  Someone look it up, please.  And all the while, he complimented, expressed amazement, gave suggestions and tested some of the planes himself.  And dignified every single response! When a student chose to not follow directions, Steve pointed out the innovation that had been made and praised that, too.

A teacher extraordinaire!  In the 39 years I taught elementary school, I had many opportunities to observe other teachers – student teachers, colleagues, master teachers, college demonstration teachers.  Great teachers, poor teachers, mediocre teachers.  Steve Romero could hang out his shingle with the best of the best. Why am I not surprised?    This is a man who does well at whatever he sets hand and mind to.

The Oysterville School

Last winter, for instance, he decided to learn how to make pottery – bought the clay, bought the glaze, bought the wheel, set up the garage…  His pots are fabulous!  He’s interested in wines, especially champagnes.  His collection has been sampled by a French champagne vintner.  For nearly two decades he had his own software company in Portland and was recently bought out by e-Bay.  He grows mushrooms in the woods behind his house and, along with his wife, Martie, made fabulous macramé curtains for the windows in their new house.

Is there anything Steve Romero won’t try or doesn’t enjoy?  If there is, he hasn’t let us in on it yet.  He never ceases to amaze.  And those Oysterville Science Academy kids were one lucky group of engineering students yesterday!  I doubt that they have even an inkling.  But I have no doubt that the lesson designing paper airplanes will be long remembered.

See you at the schoolhouse Thursday!

Monday, March 6th, 2017

Oysterville Schoolhouse 2008

The current series of Schoolhouse Lectures here in Oysterville are drawing record numbers of folks from the greater community – close to standing room only, in fact.  Who’d a thunk it? Three years ago, when Diane Buttrell had the idea of holding a series of “old fashioned Town Meetings and Lectures” at the Historic Oysterville Schoolhouse, she asked me to do a little write-up for the paper.  I wasn’t quite sure what her concept was and, after asking for clarification, I still felt foggy about it.

“They aren’t really ‘Town Meetings’ in the traditional sense,” she told me.  “And they won’t be strictly lectures.  More like eye-opening get-togethers among friends.”  In retrospect, I’m not sure even Diane realized how those ‘get-togethers’ would gather momentum and become an every-other-Thursday ‘event’ throughout the greater community.  “I’ll see you at the schoolhouse Thursday,” has become a commonplace expression from one end of the Peninsula to the other.

Diane Buttrell

That first series of talks back in the spring of 2014 had a loosely thought-out theme based on Diane’s desire to provide an opportunity for us community members to meet and talk with some of our amazing neighbors.  “Most of us probably aren’t aware of the broad range of experience and expertise we have in our midst!” she said.

The very first speaker was geoscientist/engineer, Dr. Clayton Ralph Nichols, at the time, Chairman of the National Academy of Science Committee on Earth Resources.  “I doubt that many people know that as Al Gore made his initial presentations on climate change, it was ‘our’ Clay Nichols who was asked to talk with him about the complexities of the subject,” Buttrell says.  “That’s something that just doesn’t come up in everyday conversation.”

Jim Sayce Back in the Day c. 1985

And so it went.  Each week for six weeks we saw a new (and often unknown) side of friends and neighbors. Predictably, we wanted more.  Diane has enthusiastically complied by organizing a fall and spring series each year – sometimes with a clear theme, sometimes as general as the current focus on “local lore.”  Thus far, forty-some speakers have shared their expertise and memories with audiences that have grown and grown.  The Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum is taping each session and, in addition to adding them to their oral history archive, they are making them available on YouTube.  Who knew?

This week Jim Sayce, Executive Director of the Pacific County Economic Development Council, will talk about “Growing Up Local.”  Jim has lived here for all but ten of his 62 years and his memories are mostly through his ears! And to find out what that’s all about – see you at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at ten o’clock Thursday morning!

Down Memory Lane with Sue Holway

Friday, November 4th, 2016
The Holway Family, Next Door Neighbors

The Holway Family, Next Door Neighbors

I was so glad that Nyel and I didn’t have to be in Portland until mid-afternoon yesterday.  It meant that we were able to go to neighbor Susan Holway’s ‘talk’ at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.  We’ve missed several of the others during this Fall Series, mostly because of doctoring issues, and I was especially glad to go to this one.

Sue, of course, is almost a decade younger than I.  Plus she lived here full-time and, except for one glorious year, I was only a summer kid.  Yet, “her” Oysterville and mine overlap in all the most important aspects – the people who lived here, how no one locked their doors and we walked right in, how everyone shared and helped one another.  Her final remarks, a poignant wish that the old Oysterville spirit could be rekindled, will stick with me for a long time.  No one could have said it better.

Sydney and Johnny, 1939

Sydney and Johnny, 1939

Sue’s older brother, Johnny, was the one who was my age.  He was just a week younger but, summer by summer, he grew taller and smarter than all the rest of us.  Susan mentioned yesterday that, when school consolidation happened, the kids from Oysterville’s one room schoolhouse turned out to be the valedictorians and salutatorians.  She might have been talking about her own class, but I could relate to that.  Ten years earlier, in my seventh grade class at Ocean Park School, we had considered Johnny Holway and Vernon Andrews geniuses.  Especially in math, as I remember.

We had to leave just a tad early so we missed the question and answer period, if there was one.  I think I would have asked Sue when she thought Oysterville began to change away from that all-inclusive, neighbor-helping-neighbor village that we both remember.  More importantly, I’d have asked her how she thinks we can get it back.

OCC: A Long History of Perks and Pleasures

Friday, August 26th, 2016
OCC Board Minutes - August 2016

OCC Board Minutes – August 2016

There are a good many perks that come along with membership in the Oysterville Community Club (OCC), not the least of which are Secretary Peter Janke’s Board Minutes that appear by cyber-magic once a month on my computer.  Besides being a quick way to catch up on schoolhouse doin’s, there is always an eye-catching photograph – sometimes a historic image, sometimes one taken by Peter, himself.  No matter what, they give me image envy!

This morning’s newsletter featured a picture of Lina Wachsmuth and Oysterville Regatta winners Tucker Wachsmuth and Chris Fuller with their first-place trophies (wood carvings made by Tucker who says he never imagined in his “wildest dreams” that he would be winning one of them!)  And, on the second page are pictures of the final day of the Oysterville Science Academy which has been sponsored by the OCC for two years running.

OCC Board Minutes, June 2016

OCC Board Minutes –  June 2016

Included, too, is a calendar featuring other upcoming events at the schoolhouse including the General Meeting and Potluck scheduled for October 15th and the traditional Community Christmas Party the afternoon of December 10th.   Diane Buttrell’s proposal for the Fall 2016 Oysterville Town Hall and Lecture Series (September 8th – November 17th) was approved – another of the popular events sponsored by the OCC.

Throughout the year, the schoolhouse and grounds are the site of art fairs, wedding receptions, family reunions and all manner of public and private events.  It is by renting out the facility and by their minimal membership dues that the OCC is able to fund the day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the historic little building.

The Oysterville School - Under OCC Stewardship since 1957

The Oysterville School – Under OCC Stewardship since 1957

And speaking of history – the OCC can trace its roots clear back to the early 1900s when the women of Oysterville (“The Sewing Circle”) met in one another’s homes to work on sewing and knitting projects and to keep abreast of community news and needs.  In 1925 they organized more formally calling themselves “The Oysterville Women’s Club” and, in 1940 became “The Oysterville Improvement Club” concentrating their efforts toward the war effort.  In 1957, the group re-established itself once again, opening membership to all residents of the village and the greater community.  It was at that point that the group leased the recently vacated school building from the Ocean Beach School District and, calling themselves the Oysterville Community Club, they are still going strong.,

For anyone interested in the helping toward the maintenance of the iconic old building and in the community outreach programs sponsored by the OCC, I can only say, “join!”  Membership is a bargain and the perks are (as they say) priceless!

Gearing Up for School

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016
Gin after cutting her bangs - a year or so ago

Gin after cutting her bangs – a year or so ago

My lively seven-going-on-eight-year-old cousin (2nd, twice removed) Gin came calling the other day.  She and her brother are here in Oysterville for their last visit before school starts.  “We’ve already done our school shopping…”

“It feels kinda sad,” she told me, lamenting that summer is on the wane.  Then she dashed off to see if there were any eggs that needed collecting and was back not long afterwards asking to use our outdoor faucet to fill her super-duper water gun.  “We’re going to ambush the Bemis Boys,” she told Nyel.  Those are her first cousins who were arriving shortly from Sun Valley.

School Street

School Street

Amazingly, we are gearing up for school here in Oysterville, as well.  Just yesterday Diane Buttrell sent me the schedule for the Fall 2016 Schoolhouse Lecture Series.  It will be the fifth semi-annual series she has organized and hosted and she’s asked if I will again do some write-ups for the paper.  I see by the dates that I’d better get cracking.  The theme is “Local Lore” and those who will be presenting the talks are:

9/8: Bud Goulter
9/22: Dobbie Wiegardt
10/6: Michael Parker
10/20: Ernie Soule
11/3: Susan Holway
11/17: Tom Downer

Be sure to mark your calendars – every other Thursday, September 8th through November 17th at 10:00 a.m.  I’ve already marked mine!

It Was a Matter of ‘Thwarted at Every Turn!’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Betsy Millard

Betsy Millard, Director of the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum

Doncha hate it when your best intentions go awry?  Not once but twice so far for me when it comes to giving folks a heads up about Betsy Millard’s talk on Thursday, March 31st at the Oysterville Schoolhouse.

I actually made an appointment with Betsy.  We met in her office at the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum in Ilwaco and I interviewed her for a little article that was to appear in the paper last week on the 23rd – plenty of time to let people know the who, what, why, when, where of it.

But, the paper came out and… nothing.  It happens.  Things get mislaid in the last minute shuffle.  So, I resubmitted the story and picture (just in case it was a consequence of ‘lost’ rather than ‘mislaid’) and I even called to make sure they got it.  Tomorrow will tell the tale and I hope it isn’t too late.

I thought, for insurance purposes, that I would devote today’s blog to Betsy’s scheduled appearance – had the facts at the forefront of mind and fingertips – only to discover that we had no internet service this morning.  Wotthehell?  Apparently, the gods did not want me to spread the word!  Not just then anyway.

Schoolhouse Clock

Lectures Start at 10:00 by the Schoolhouse Clock

What I was really sorry about was that readers might not learn about Betsy’s incredible professional background.  I touched on it a little in my Observer story – enough so that I hope people will ask her a few leading questions at the schoolhouse on Thursday.  Otherwise, I’m not at all sure that Betsy will share some of her interesting past.  She’s usually not one to look back; her focus is almost always on ‘the now’ and ‘the next.’

Those traits, of course, are what make her such a successful Director.  Not that she isn’t ever mindful of the past.  History, after all, is the name of the game.  But… getting to her personal history might take a little prodding.

At the time of this writing, though, my fondest desire was to prod the internet.  My server said that it wasn’t not just me – “a wide-reaching” problem they said,  and they were working on it.  However, I am an optimist by nature and I chose to think that whatever was the matter would soon be corrected.  If not, I could only hope that the usual Peninsula Telegraph Service, word-of-mouth, would prevail.   Even now, it’s a viable thought.

Coming Soon: Oysterville Science Academy!

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
Oysterville School, 1940s

Oysterville School, 1940s

Diane Buttrell and I have been talking about her plans for the Oysterville Science Academy this summer and I am feeling totally out of the educational loop. Maybe “educational” is the wrong word. It’s the kid loop I’m no longer part of.

Twenty years ago, I would have known most of the fourth graders in the Ocean Beach School District and I could have said to some of them, “Have you heard about what’s happening in Oysterville this summer? Are you planning to go? Will I see you in the schoolyard or down by the bay? I hope so!”

Ascan0021s it is, I can only hope that kids and parents get the word and sign up for the exciting program that Diane and her colleagues are planning. Beginning July 27th and continuing for three four-day weeks (Mondays thru Thursdays) fourth graders will become totally immersed in science. Through demonstrations, experiments, and hands-on activities and they will have an opportunity to learn from an amazing number of experts. Yes! Experts in matters such as oceanography, logistics, biology, and geothermal activity!

They won’t be learning in quite the usual way, either.  They will be using a curriculum developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Lessons are based on the time-honored processes used by actual scientists world-wide — observing, inferring, predicting, using numbers, measuring, communicating using time/space relationships, and classifying.

Imagine! Lab Coats!

There will be some writing, some research, and some time for art.  And, there will be lab coats! If I were a kid, that would be the final caveat! The experiments, the research, the field trips to look at ‘stuff’ in its natural habitat – all well and good. But there’d be nothing to make me feel more like being a real scientist than wearing a lab coat. What a great touch!

From the vantage point of an Oysterville resident, I can’t wait to hear children’s voices on the school grounds again. It’s been 57 years since school has been held on a regular basis at the little one-room schoolhouse. The occasional Easter egg hunt or visit by a group of school kids is great, but three weeks in a row of daily use by school children is a Big Deal. It almost makes me want to be a fourth grader again. Or maybe a teacher again. Almost.

One of the Kids Next Door

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015
The Holway Family, Next Door Neighbors

The Holway Family, Next Door Neighbors

When Oysterville was somewhat younger – maybe six or seven decades ago – and I was just a wee poppet, myself, I remember the excitement of coming here to my grandparents’ each summer. A big part of the fun was playing with the kids next door – the Holway kids!

Johnny was exactly my age (well, a week younger) and he and I were great friends until his younger sister Ruthie came along. Then, as I remember, we three played together for a few years – probably until Annie came along. By then, we girls were undoubtedly closing ranks against Johnny and the other boys in town, or vice-versa. I remember many hours spent down at the bay digging tunnels in the sand and sliding on the ballast rocks but I have few memories of boys being with us.

Sue Holway

Sue Holway

And then, one summer, along came Susie. Soon, Ruthie and I considered the two younger girls tag-alongs and no doubt we tried to escape them now and then. When Katherine joined the family a few years later, I was so ancient as to be approaching my teens and my memories of her as a little girl are few and far between.

Now that I am teetering on the brink of my second childhood, it pleases me to think that Sue Holway still lives next door. It’s a lifetime later and both of us have lived other places. We no longer spend every free minute down at the bay hunting for baby crabs or building sand castles, but here we are in Oysterville, next door neighbors on a full-time basis! It’s not everyone who can say they’ve lived next door to one another for the better part of a century!

Today, Sue is talking at the schoolhouse – her turn to do one of the Oysterville Schoolhouse Lectures. Of all of us who have spoken there since the lecture series began a year and a half ago, Sue is the only one who was born and grew up here and who actually was a student in that very building.

Her topic today is “Oysterville, My Love” – the title suggested by Diane Buttrell, the series organizer, whose all-time favorite piece of Oysterville literature is a poem by the same name written in the 1990s (or maybe the 1980s?) by Sue — in her book Remember Where You Started From. Sue has been fairly circumspect about what she is going to say today and I know I’m not the only one who is eager to find out! It’s hard for me to believe that one of the ‘kids next door’ is giving this talk! It begins at 10 o’clock

Thursday, Ten O’clock Ayem

Monday, March 9th, 2015

 

The Oysterville School

The Oysterville School

Day after day after tomorrow (as we used to say when we were kids) I’ll be talking at the Oysterville Schoolhouse – taking my turn in the Spring 2015 Schoolhouse Lecture Series. My topic is “Putting the Story Back in History” and I’ve had in mind to tell about some of the pioneer characters I’ve come to know through years of research and putting bits and pieces of the historic puzzle together.  But, after hearing my friend Birdie Etchison talk two weeks ago, I’m waffling.

Birdie is also a local writer. In some ways, we are polar opposites. She writes fiction; I write non-fiction. She enjoys and is inspired by talking with other writers in workshops and writing groups; I spend my non-writing time in more solitary pursuits like examining old diaries and long-forgotten ledgers. She supports herself by writing; I feel lucky to break even.

Birdie Etchison

Birdie Etchison

Birdie’s topic was “The How, Why and What of Writing” and her audience was rapt. At hour’s end, there were many questions and comments and there were even folks interested in forming a writing group with Birdie as ‘doyenne.’ But, what has caused me to rethink my own upcoming presentation was moderator Diane’s concluding remarks that next time I’d be telling about my writing process…

“Will I?” I’ve been asking myself. “Perhaps I should,” I tell myself. And, all the while, I wonder what my audience would really like to hear. Stories or process? Maybe some of both.

Too, I want to do more than entertain and inform. If possible, I’d like to inspire. Not in a lofty kind of way – just enough so that a few listeners might be encouraged to document some of their own stories. For posterity. For future historians. For an Oysterville Schoolhouse Lecture a hundred years hence.

But fifty minutes isn’t much time…

Calling All Ten O’Clock Scholars

Wednesday, February 11th, 2015
"A Diller A Dollar"by Kate Greenaway

“A Diller A Dollar”by Kate Greenaway

A diller, a dollar, a ten o’clock scholar!
What makes you come so soon?
You used to come at ten o’clock,
But now you come at noon.

I remember, in my nursery rhyme days, wondering what, exactly, a ten’o’clock scholar was.  Every one knew that school started at nine o’clock.  I think the rhyme’s sarcasm was lost on me — probably because I don’t really remember tardiness as a problem.  Not when I was a student and not when I was a teacher.

But now, seven-plus decades later, “ten o’clock scholar” is taking on a whole new meaning here in Oysterville.  For the next two months, every other Thursday beginning tomorrow, we can all be ten o’clock scholars and be right on time for the ‘Spring 2015 Oysterville Schoolhouse Lecture Series.’

Sponsored by the Oysterville Community Club and organized by Diane Buttrell, this is the third series of lectures by community members — each an expert in his or her field and each willing to share their knowledge with friends and neighbors.  The sessions are free, though five dollar donations help defray expenses and pay for heat and light.  The atmosphere is informal and friendly and the information often cutting-edge and riveting.

Schoolhouse Clock

Schoolhouse Clock

Tomorrow Dr. Clayton Ralph Nichols will talk about “Living Fear-Free on Our Peninsula,” particularly with regard to natural hazards such as earthquakes and tsunamis that are of special concern here.  Dr. Nichols” knows of what he speaks.  He served as chairperson of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Earth Resources and on its Boardon Earth Science and Research for 12 years,retiring Dec. 31, 2014.  Locals know him better as ‘Clay’ — a member of the Bayside Singers and currently serving as President, Friends of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.

Clay’s description of himself on FaceBook is perhaps the most appropriate preview of tomorrow’s lecture:  I am a semi-retired scientist and engineer interested in scientific revolutions.  At present, I’m fascinated by the present debate over global climate change as an example of changing paradigms.  Most of all, I like his favorite quote:  “We have met the enemy and they is us.”  Pogo.

I don’t know if Oysterville’s is the oldest remaining school building in Pacific County or not, but tomorrow’s lecture will definitely be the most cutting edge ‘class’ in session.  Ten o’clock scholars dasn’t be late!