Archive for the ‘Summer in Oysterville’ Category

Some things DO change…

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Medora, 1914

A year ago I could have titled this “Some things don’t change…” but this year, of course, that’s not so true.

DIARY, TUESDAY,  JULY 7, 1914
This morning we had to rush terribly to get our camping outfit on the stage.  Bob fixed the camera.  It had had lots of sand in it.  Papa took us to Nahcotta in the lumber wagon drawn by the colts (Emp and Queenie).  The bumps were awful.  We fooled around Moreheads’ till about one.  Holland Houston came down from the Park with Ruth C. and Marge.  The ride over to the Nemah in the launch Edna was wonderful.  Dote and I sat up in front, rather lied.  Ruth Hag. was our chaperone.  Upon arriving at Prior’s landing was much surprized to find the whole family there except Ethel who is a week old bride.  Priors helped us pitch camp.  Adam was down to dinner.  Had a bonfire.  Slept on the ground in the tent.  Rather uncomfortable.  Gene W. is attractive.

Medora’s Makeshift Garters — Nemah Camping Trip, 1914

Medora (my mother’s eldest sister) was fifteen and, as far as I know, this was her first (and perhaps only) camping trip.  As is always the case when I am dealing with old family documents of one kind and another, I wish my mother were here to elucidate.  (I’m sure she’d “tut-tut” over Medora’s use of “lied,”  however.  So did I.)

I do know some of  Medora’s  references, though.  “Bob” was Papa’s cousin Robert Oliver who lived here in Oysterville for a few years and was a great favorite with the entire family.  “Morehead’s” in Nahcotta was, of course, John Morehead’s store (which Jack’s Country Store proudly claims as a forebear). “Ruth Hag” was Ruth Richardson Hagadorn, my grandmother’s younger sister — about  ten years older than Medora.  The Priors were family friends who lived on the Nemah River.  Their large family included Willie, Marion, Ethel, and Adam.

“Dote” was Portland Academy friend, Dorothy Strowbridge, about whom Medora later wrote: “Mother doesn’t approve of Dote.”  (I wonder if my own mother would have known why.)  Ruth Connell, “Ruth C..” was in the class ahead of Medora at Portland Academy and “Marge” was her sister, perhaps in Medora’s class.  Their family had a summer place in Ocean Park.

Camp Keepsake

“Holland Huston” was from Portland and, though somewhat older than Medora, was perhaps also a schoolmate  at Portland Academy.  His family had a summer place in Ocean Park or Nahcotta and he seemed to be part of the Portland Summer Group that Medora saw occasionally during the summers of 1914 and 1915.  She had a bit of a crush on Holland — but not so much that she didn’t take note of  the mysterious “Gene W.”   And, in that respect, certainly, Pandemic or No Pandemic — some things do not change much at all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Fourth of July from Oysterville!

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Fireplace at Camp Tagum

Last week when Tucker sent me a photograph he had taken titled “Fireplace at Camp Tagum,” I knew exactly what it was!  It was what now remains, after almost seventy years, of the fireplace his family had constructed at their annual summer campsite at the north end of the Peninsula.  They called their place “Camp Tagum” (the ‘T’ for Tuck, the ‘a’ for brother Dan, and the ‘g’ for brother Doug and the ‘um’ for I’m not sure what.)  Last night, being Friday and, under plummier times being the time Tucker often brings something to share at our weekly gatherings, he sent pictures of Camp Tagum and a story, as well!  They are the perfect accompaniment for Fourth of July greetings from Oysterville.

CAMPING AT TAGUM WITH LOU
By Tucker Wachsmuth

Fireplace Builders: Chester Sr. (Dad) and Friend Arthur Nelson

We camped up at the Point for many years beginning in about 1950.  One year, probably 1964, when I was still a teenager, mice were getting into our food supply.  Cousin Lou brought several packages of mouse traps when we were in Ocean Park.  That night, he set the traps on the ground all around our camp site.  All night long while we sat around telling stories, Lou would jump up when a trap would snap, throw the dead mouse into the woods, and reset it.  We all eventually retired to our tents and warm sleeping bags leaving Lou to carry on his grizzly task.  I remember looking out of the tent window: he was silhouetted against the fire, sitting on a board stretched between two short logs.

Brothers Dan, Doug, and Tuck at Camp Tagum

We had umbrella tents where the sides sloped up from the ground in a big curve.   I was nearly asleep, nestled into the curve, when I felt something, on the outside of the tent, walk over my hand.  I got up on my knees and looked out at Lou still sitting in front of the fire as a skunk walked up behind him.  I didn’t dare call out.  The skunk walked right under his seat and stopped.  It stayed right there and I crossed my fingers in the hope that one of those mouse traps wouldn’t suddenly go off and scare the creature.

Brother Dan and Mom (Martha) at Camp Tagum

That night my eyelids got heavy and my need for sleep soon overcame my curiosity.  I watched the skunk drama for a while but soon flopped back in the sack leaving Lou and the skunk locked in their totem-like positions: the skunk on the bottom and Lou frozen — almost afraid to breathe — on top.

Grandparents VanFleet, Arthur Nelson, Brothers Dan and Doug

The situation was comical, but was a potential disaster.  If you’ve ever smelled a skunk on the highway, it’s maybe a little unpleasant.  If you’ve been sprayed by a skunk, it’s a different experience.  The spray can be so strong that it makes your eyes and the inside of your nose burn.  Believe me, having a skunk spray your camp is a great way to ruin your vacation.

Mom, Dad (Chet), Tuck, and Brother Doug

Early next morning, Lou was still sitting on the bench.  I got up and asked him what had happened.  He just looked straight ahead and said that after what seemed like hours that skunk just slowly ambled off.  I’m not sure that Lou rated his mouse abatement project a total success, but I’ve always been pleased that he was able to get along with a skunk for at least one night.

Perfect Princess Cinderella!

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Charlie at Theatricum, 2012

I took a little bit of guff from my always PC son on the name we chose for our new Roomba.  In the instruction manual, you are asked to name your robot vacuum cleaner.  It also says that it has the capacity to recognize its name and several other words.  “Let’s call her Cinderella,” Nyel said.  “Perfect,” said I.

I, of course, mentioned her name in yesterday’s blog and had an immediate response from Charlie:  “It’s called Cinderella? Cinderella was imprisoned, starved, and forced to do menial chores by her cruel stepmother. What a terrible thing to commemorate.”

To which I countered:  “Yes, but Prince Charming rescued her and she lived happily ever after! Let’s not overthink it. It’s a fairy tale and our Cinderella is a robot. She’s happy to have such a lovely house to work in and such kind and generous employers!”

Cinderella’s Namesake

Undaunted, Charlie wrote (I’m sure in a rather demeaning tone): “You have her doing housework.”

And I, his elderly mother rejoined:  “Charles Morgan Howell IV, are you suggesting that housework is a menial chore? I don’t remember you protesting on MY behalf for all these years that I’ve been doing such menial labor! lol”

We talked about it last night again during our weekly phone call — a zoom call, actually, in which I was able to show both Charlie and Marta Princess Cinderella at work.  Charlie isn’t backing down.  Neither are the Princess and I.  And especially not Nyel who gave her the name.

Cinderella Cleaning Under The Bed

Which reminds me, after we named her I had occasion to listen to an error message.  I’m pleased to announce that it was a woman’s voice — no doubt the Princess, herself!

P.S.  My house has never been so clean!!  At least not the floors and carpets.  I can’t wait until we can hire the Ugly Step-sisters to do the dusting and laundry…

 

A Tucker Story comes to Oysterville!

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

German Hunting Horn

It has become Tucker’s habit to bring something to “show and tell” for the Friday Nighters at our house each week.  A year or so ago, he brought a German hunting horn (or was it a post horn) like the one his cousin Ute (and maybe, also, Ute’s father, Manfred) plays.

If I remember rightly, Ute actually plays in a hunting horn (or post horn) band (or orchestra) and when Tucker went to Germany to help celebrate Manfred’s birthday a few years ago, he heard them play.  He described the experience in glowing terms and apologized that he couldn’t really play his horn to give us an idea of how wonderful it sounds when played by an expert.

Yesterday, when Nyel and I were out trimming the rhododendrons in the back yard, the quiet of the village was suddenly broken by the most elegant and melodious sound.  “It’s Ute!” I said.  “She’s playing her horn!”  It was absolutely fabulous!

Ute in Oysterville

I left Nyel to his clipping and went over to see for myself.  I’d had hints.  I knew that Ute and Manfred had arrived in Oysterville on Friday.  And, I also knew that they would be here long enough to attend Our Grand Affair.  Plus, Tucker had suggested that Ute bring her horn to help with the celebration!  And she did!  What a glorious sound!

Although I’ve never heard a German hunting or post horn being played. there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about what I was hearing.  And there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would be the perfect “Let The Fun Begin” announcement at two o’clock on the twenty-second.  And maybe the perfect punctuation for various events of the day — like the cannon salute!  As Tucker would say, “Wow!”

I’m losing count.

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Three More!

Three weeks ago I’d have told you that the swallows on our south porch were gone.  They had raised two batches of babies in the nest precariously perched above the living room window.  First there were three birdie babes, then five, all fledged and gone.

After a week or two, I had scraped and scrubbed and cleaned up  their mess (mostly) and was planning to apply just a bit more elbow grease when…  back came Mr. and Mrs. and not just to say “hello.”  The eggs were laid and  hatched just like that!  It didn’t seem that the requisite ten days had gone by before… three new babes.  Hungry ones!

I so love to watch them.  There always seems to be a dominant one– a little bigger, a little bolder sitting right at the precipice, and no doubt a little more demanding.  Boy baby or girl baby?  It would be interesting to know.  I love it that their bills are outlined so perfectly, giving a good target for mom and dad during the feeding process.

Barn Swallow Egg

Everything I’ve read online says swallows raise one to two broods a season.  Hmmm.  Maybe these aren’t the same parents.  Maybe the original couple has decided to go into the air b&b biz.  If only they’d wear name tags, I’d know a lot more.

 

 

There’s Still Space Available at OSA!

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

Sydney c. 1944

When I was a kid in Oysterville seven or eight decades ago, summers were all about freedom and being outside and playing and exploring.  My memories are filled with picking blackberries in the meadow,  of finding the baby crabs that lived under the ballast rocks at the bay, of talking with Jimmy Anderson when he walked into town for his “fresh” can of milk each day.  The days were long, though the summers, too short.

Too, for part of each summer I attended Camp Willapa which was run by family friend Dorothy Elliott.  Although there were “rules” and “schedules” it’s the fabulous adventures I remember — the three-or-four-day canoe trips over to Long Island or up the Naselle.  Or camping at Beard’s Hollow or fishing off the end of the old wooden Nahcotta Dock.  There were animals to care for — bunnies and ducks and horses and goats — and new kids to meet who would become life-long friends.

The Oysterville School – Home of Oysterville Science Academy

I thought about all that when I received a note yesterday from a former Oysterville Science Academy student.  This is what it said:  OSA was one of my favorite camps! I loved participating in this weeklong camp for many reasons. One of them was meeting so many interesting people! We got to meet a blind wood worker, and many other awesome crafts people and scientists! Another great thing that happened was being able to go outside as much as we did! We got to go on little field trips, play in a tree fort, run around, and hang! We had great fun with an abacus and geography stars! My aunt got to talk to us about her Mars mission, which was really special. OSA was a great experience and I think others will enjoy it as much as me and my friends did!

This will be the fifth year of the three-week-long Oysterville Science Academy.  Each year I have taken great pleasure in seeing and hearing children’s voices over in the school yard.  (The Oysterville School has been closed for lack of students since 1957!!)  I have marveled at descriptions of their “process-driven” curriculum — presenting the building blocks of science (observation, classification,inference, measurement, etc.) while meeting experts and investigation the world (Oysterville!) around them.

OSA Students in Lab Coats, 2016

But I never quite equated it with summer camp.  And, yet… how did I miss that!  I am told there are still spaces available for this year’s Academy which will be held August 12 – August 20.   Incoming or outgoing fourth graders are the target participants.  If you know of a likely candidate — a neighbor, a friend’s child or grandchild — please spread the word.  It’s free!  It’s fun!  And it’s state-of-the-art science in an old-fashioned, historic setting.  Would that I were nine again!

For further information, contact Diane Buttrell at edianebuttrell@gmail.com or 360-214-1267.  Hurry!  Time flies in summer!

 

Welcome to beautiful downtown Oysterville!

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

Bard Heim Barn c.1950

Paragraphs #9 and #10 of “Oysterville” in the 2019-2020 issue of Discovery Coast:

But all is well.  History has been saved, and it can be truthfully described as “living history.”

With Willapa Bay as its backdrop, the 80-acre Oysterville National Historic District and the areas immediately adjacent to it feels [sic] like a movie back lot version of a 19th -century coastal community.

I’m probably among the minority but I have never been to a movie backlot.  So I did a little research.  According to Wikipedia A backlot is an area behind or adjoining a movie studio,   containing permanent exterior buildings for outdoor scenes in filmmaking or television productions,  or space for temporary set construction. 

The Briscoe Residence c. 1890

The article went on to say: Some movie studios build a wide variety of sets on the backlot, which can be modified for different purposes as need requires and “dressed” to resemble any time period or look…  The shells, or façades, on a studio backlot are usually constructed with three sides and a roof, often missing the back wall and/or one of the side walls.  (Yep!  There are lots of houses in Oysterville exactly like that!  Not!)

But it was the final paragraph that struck me:  Though some studios like MGM and Fox sold vast tracts in the 1960s and 1970s, many historical sets continue to be demolished today, as there seems to be little interest in their preservation.

In that respect — the “little interest in their preservation” part — I do believe we are a lot like a historical set.  I well remember some years ago when Oysterville citizens went before our County Commissioners asking for tax relief which is allowed in many Washington Counties for designated historical properties to offset the monies spent to keep things authentically “historical.”

Tommy Nelson’s Cannery 1945

We were, of course, denied.  But it was Planning Director’s  remark that has stuck in my head all these years.  “Oh, protecting old houses isn’t really necessary.  We build historic houses every day. You just have to wait fifty years for them to be recognized.”  There are no words to describe my thoughts on that Trumpian viewpoint…

Stop! Look! Listen! Saturday 10:00-4:00!

Wednesday, July 10th, 2019

2019 Music in the Gardens Ticket

Saturday, July 13th is coming right up.  Do you have your Music in the Gardens tickets?  Have you planned your route?  They say that this year you must BE at a garden at the stroke of ten a.m. if you are to visit all seven gardens before the four p.m. closing.

It sounds simple enough.  Start at one end; go to the other.  But wait!  Don’t forget to factor in the musicians.  And if you have a favorite one (or two or six) that will take you some additional factoring.  And maybe a bit of calculus or even trigonometry.

For one thing, not all the musicians play all day.  And, in most cases, each garden hosts just one  musician (or group)..  But not always.  The schedule looks like this:

Garden One – Dave Drury 9:45 am. to 12:45 with two breaks on the half hour.
Tom Trudell will set up and begin “about” 12:45 until “at least” 3:30 — maybe
doing a couple of tunes with Dave.  And… student musician Tristan Trudell will be playing part of the time as well.

Garden Two — Two groups, Tanz (Judy Eron and Charlie Watkins) will play from 10 until 12.   Sea Strings (Bill and Janet Clark) will play from 12:30 or 1:00 to 2:30 or 3:00.  (Got that?)  In between (from 12 to 12:30 or 1:00) Janet and Judy will perform Beatles songs.
And later, guitarist Tim Bunney, a friend of the homeowner/gardener will play to round out the day.

Well… you see what I mean.  In those two gardens alone, it is a constantly changing, moveable, musical feast!  The other five gardens appear to be somewhat more straightforward:

Guitarist Brian O’Connor

Garden Three – Brian O’Connor, all day with breaks from time to time

Garden Four – Geoerge Coleman, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Five – Tom Grant, 11:00 – 2:00

Garden Six – Terry Robb, 1:00 – 4:00

Garden Seven – Jean-Pierre and Al Perez, 1:00 – 4:00

Oh yes… the gardens!  If you have your tickets, you have a description and, most importantly, the location of each of the seven.  Super necessary to plan your day.  I can give you a bit of a hint — the names of the gardeners for each of the numbers above.  #1 – Diane and Fred Marshall; #2 – Dawna and Terry Hart; #3 – Shelley Pollock and Jeff Stevens; #4 – Barbara and Eugene Norcross-Renner;  #5 – Dave and Linda King; #6 – Deb Howard; #7 – John Stephens and Steve McCormick.

The Love Shack 

Only a few pieces are still missing — addresses and a map!  Both are available on your ticket which, if ordered online or by phone, can be picked up at the English Nursery in Seaview, the Basketcase Greenhouse in Long Beach, or the Bay Avenue Gallery in Ocean Park.  Each venue still has tickets available for sale, as well — a $20 bargain!

 

 

 

 

 

A Little Wierd… But Nice To Know… Maybe!

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Yesterday morning when I checked my FaceBook page, there was an information box at the top which said that my cousin Mona and my friend and former student Chelsea “had marked themselves safe during Hurricane Florence Across the Eastern United States.”  While it was very welcome news, it seemed a little Big Brother-ish to me.

My immediate reaction was “How do they know?”  The ‘they’ of that thought process was a faceless entity, definitely a Big Brother look-alike, so to speak.  But, on reflection. I realized that somehow Mona and Chelsea had been given an opportunity by the ‘they’ of FaceBook to weigh in so that their friends could be apprised of their status.

Readying Suppies at Fort Bragg, NC

I am grateful.  But, being the glass half-empty personality that I am, I immediately wondered about other friends and loved ones in the Carolinas that I haven’t heard about – those without FB but, more crucially, those with FB.  Did they opt not to weigh in?  Or are they among 670,000 people without power?  And, if that’s the case, what other problems are they facing?

All-in-all, I’m feeling like a little knowledge is not entirely satisfactory.  I’m trying to take the attitude that “no news is good news” and I actually wish our media would subscribe to that philosophy, as well. The constant hype, the worst-case scenarios, and the repetitive visuals of the most dire situations wore me down in the first day or so of the impending disaster.  And now FB gets into the act!  I’m feeling a bit gobsmacked in Oysterville and am turning off, tuning out, and reverting to the age-old policy of hope for the best!

Endings and Beginnings

Sunday, September 2nd, 2018

 

Picnic at Beard’s Hollow, 1940s

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve been conflicted about Labor Day Weekend – sad that it marked summer’s end and happy that school was about to begin. That was as true during my teaching years as it had been when I was a student.  By the time I retired, that ‘Labor Day Weekend Feeling’ was forever ingrained.

Besides… living here on the Peninsula simply acts as reinforcement to that transition from summer to fall.  We have always been a vacation destination.  It’s the beach, after all.  During my lifetime, I’ve watched that ‘vacation’ moniker morph into ‘tourist’ and, lately, into the ‘year-round tourist’ term.  Even so, there is still a tangible lull in the activity on the Peninsula after Labor Day.  Fewer visitors, less traffic, diminished hours for some tourist-dependent businesses, and an almost audible sigh of relief, even among those whose livelihood depends upon that influx of outsiders.

In Oysterville, Labor Day weekend marks the end of our Music Vespers for another season.  I am always a bit amazed that the twelve weekly services are over so soon.  Although there are no longer “summer homes” here that get boarded up at the end of the season, we know that some of our part-time residents won’t be here as often and the stream of visitors to the church will lessen.  Somehow, it seems a relief to have the village ‘back,’ though we’ll be looking forward to friends and visitors by the next three-day weekend.

Smokin’ Hot!

Although the shortening days sadden me, the hint of nip in the air is a reminder that the ducks and geese will be moving through soon and hunting season is just around the corner.  Not that Nyel hunts anymore and not that I ever did.  But I love to hear that “pop! pop! pop!” out on the bay – a reminder of my childhood and of the continuing rhythms of our lives.  I’m even looking forward to first storm of the season (but maybe not until November).  It seems a long time since we’ve hunkered down by the fire.

Meanwhile, though, bring on tomorrow’s barbecues!  And Happy Labor Day!