Archive for the ‘Willard R. Espy’ Category

Espy’s the name: E-S-P-Y

Friday, January 23rd, 2015
Espy Coat of Arms... Pehaps

Espy Coat of Arms… Pehaps

Last Sunday I met a woman who said she knows one of my relatives – “Sue Espy” who lives in Portland. I know (or think I know) all the descendants of my great-grandfather, R.H, Espy and, in addition, I know many of the descendants of his brothers and sisters, but I don’t know of a Sue with the Espy surname. I’m afraid my response to my new acquaintance was a bit skeptical but I hope someday to meet Sue Espy and learn more.

It was my uncle Willard who was considered the genealogist of our family and his response to such information was always, “Yes, we probably are related.” I concur with that. I just don’t know the how of my connection to Sue. If I had Willard’s interest in my family roots, I could undoubtedly find out, but I don’t so I probably won’t. I do often think, though, how much easier his quest would have been these days with internet access to sites like ancestor.com and social media conversations galore with the strike of a key.

Willard did most of his searching by good, old-fashioned longhand correspondence or by traveling to interview possible sources in person. His archive has entire boxes devoted to queries to and responses from county clerks and veterans’ organizations and individuals all over the country. He compiled his information into three large loose-leaf binders, copies of which he supplied to all of his immediate family and to all of his eighteen first cousins or their offspring. The pages of those books are chock-a-block full of amazing information!

He also checked out the origins of the family name. A certificate from Halberts in Bath, Ohio says that there are approximately 400 heads of households (yielding about 1,280 people) in the United States with the old and d Espy distinguished Espy name – a name with the most prominent variations being Delespie, Epis and Espie. (There is no mention of the Espey spelling which my own branch of the family used briefly in the 1890s.) Unfortunately there is no date on the Halberts certificate, but I think Willard received it in the 1960s or ‘70s.

Besides all that interesting information about our far flung “cousins” and their name-spellings, the certificate shows and describes the Espy Coat of Arms: Quartered: 1) and 4) blue, a gold ear of wheat in left diagonal position; 2) and ) silver, a red bull walking and in the black upper third, three silver shells. It goes on to explain: the surname Espy appears to be occupational in origin, and is believed to be associated with the French, meaning, “one who was a farmer.” Furthermore, according to Halberts’ certificate, Family mottos are believed to have originated as battle cries in medieval times. A Motto was not recorded with the Espy Coat of Arms.

Family Name Certificate

Family Name Certificate

So, if we were to believe all that, the Espys were farmers, not soldiers and possibly of French origin. I don’t know what Willard thought of Halberts’ information. He did claim that the origin of the Espy name was French – he said from the word espier meaning to spy. (The first known use of the word espy was in the 14th century – or so the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary reports.) So maybe we were spies and attached to the military, not farmers after all?  When all was said and done, however, Willard did not believe that any of our forebears were illustrious enough to have warranted a coat of arms.  Nor do I.

Perhaps of note:   the source of this lovely certificate, Halberts Publishing Company, is now out of business and according to many online reports, its information was not reliable. In fact, rootsweb.com says   Beware of family history scams: First it was Halberts of Bath, Ohio Then Morphcorp in Denver, Colorado. Ancestry.com is the latest to promote the scam!

Who knows… maybe Willard’s hand written queries and in-person visits were the best way after all.

Excerpt from a Work-in-Progress

Friday, January 16th, 2015

DearMedoraCvr200A few years back I began writing a book about my uncle, author and wordsmith Willard Espy. My concept was to do a book about how growing up here in Oysterville had influenced him and how, conversely, as an adult with an international reputation, he had influenced Oysterville. I was thinking of it as a companion piece to my book Dear Medora which is about Willard’s older sister, but when I ran it by WSU Press, there was little interest – at least not in its present form.

Yesterday, I took another look at the manuscript, thinking I might begin the arduous task of rethinking and rewriting. What happened (not unexpectedly) was that I became engrossed in the book once again. I guess I’m not ready to rethink it yet… Here is one of the passages that will probably need to ‘go’ if I am to rewrite it along the lines that the editor suggested:

            Although Papa wrestled with the decision to move his family north, in the end, he allowed himself to be convinced that it would just be a short stay. His concerns were not for himself or for three-year-old Medora and two-year old Albert. After all, Papa and his six siblings had grown up in the little, tumble-down village. For him it was ‘home’ and he considered it a fine place for raising a family. It was Mama’s comfort which concerned him.

Oysterille Street Scene 1890s

Oysterille Street Scene 1890s

Oysterville in 1902 was a far cry from East Oakland where Mama had grown up and where the H.A. Espys had intended to continue living. The young couple had already made headway in buying a lovely house just down the block from Mama’s parents. The house had all the conveniences of modern city life such as electricity and running water. It was situated near California College with its cultural and educational amenities. The trolley ran nearby giving easy access to shopping and visiting friends.

In contrast, Oysterville was old-fashioned and outdated. A plank street served as the main thoroughfare through town and horse and buggy was the extent of modern transportation. Well water supplied drinking, cooking, bathing and laundry needs, and most houses had a hand pump located conveniently near the kitchen door. Electricity wouldn’t arrive until 1938 under the auspices of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s rural electrification program. Residents were conservative in their dress and behavior, and they were strict in their beliefs.

Shortly after their marriage in 1897, Papa had taken Mama to Oysterville to meet his mother who, unlike his father, had been unable to attend their wedding. The visit was an experience Mama remembered for the rest of her life:

“I didn’t know what to expect of Oysterville. Ed had kept talking about “the ranch” but when I asked him if he lived in the country he said, “Oh no, our house is right in the center of town.”

"Mama" - Helen Richardson, 1896

“Mama” – Helen Richardson, 1896

I saw people pumping water out in their front yards and taking it into the house in buckets. But the Espys were more civilized. Their pump was on the back porch. Even so, Mother Espy was using whale ribs as chicken perches…

We arrived on a fairly decent day. But a day or so later there was a big storm with a tremendously high tide. We were surrounded by water. Tina Wachsmuth came down the street in a rowboat! I was on the front verandah and I watched the waves came up to the front fence. We could hear the ocean was roaring just as if it were trying to break loose. I never wanted to see the place again. I was just barely nineteen years old. I have often wished I had been older and more experienced and tolerant.”

Mama was 32 when Willard was born – no longer a naïve young bride, but a wife and mother who had experienced her share of both pain and pleasure. She had been in attendance at the death of her beloved mother, had borne five children one of whom had died when only four-and-a-half years old, and she was still enduring the primitive backwater called Oysterville.

Willard Espy, 1914

Willard Espy, 1914

On the other hand, Papa had just been elected to the Washington State Senate by the voters of Pacific and Wahkiakum Counties and Mr. and Mrs. Harry Espy would be living in the State Capital of Olympia for part of each year. They were actually rubbing elbows with Governor Hay and his wife! Mama was beginning, already, to imagine that someday – someday soon – Papa would be tapped for the Lieutenant Governor’s position.

However, when Papa decided not to run for a second term so that he could devote himself to his dairy business in Oysterville, Mama supported his decision fully. She turned her attention to her children who, by then, numbered six. Whatever ambitions she harbored for Papa and whatever dreams she had for herself, she channeled toward her “flock” and, as it turned out, especially toward Willard.

The Consummate Storyteller

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Willard Espy, 1989 Video

Willard Espy, 1989 Video

Yesterday afternoon I spent the better part of an hour with my Uncle Willard. He was telling stories about Oysterville – familiar stories that I had heard him tell many times previously. On this occasion, though, he was ‘in person’ but not ‘live.’ He was speaking through the magic of a digitized tape-recorded talk he gave at the Ocean Park Timberland Library on July 29, 1989. Oyster documentarian Keith Cox had sent it to me on a DVD in a digitized version.

It was a pretty poor quality recording all the way around – lousy camera angle, horrible background of empty bookshelves, a very difficult-to-understand audio. But it was Willard in all his storytelling glory and I watched it eagerly, thinking all the while that he was just the age I am now when the original tape was made.

DVD Case

DVD Case

He told about Espy and Clark’s arrival in Oysterville and when he messed up some of the facts I found myself calling out to him: “No, it wasn’t Nahcati; it was Old Klickeas who told Espy where the oysters were.” and “No, not April 3rd; it was April 12th that they arrived.” But I soon got caught up in the magical world of his stories and I didn’t listen for facts anymore.

Willard never did claim to be a historian, just a storyteller. When his works were published, though, he was as meticulous as he could be about the facts. But somehow, it wasn’t those details that mattered a twit back on that Saturday afternoon twenty-five years ago. The audience, heard but not seen, loved every bit of it.

I found myself trying to analyze what made Willard the consummate storyteller. Was it his slow, deliberate, thoughtful delivery? Was it his obvious delight in pointing out the foibles of the people he talked about? Was it the confidence with which he spoke? Was it some unknown undefinable quality of charisma?

Whatever the combination, I wish I could replicate it next Spring when I teach “Putting the Story Back in History” at Grays Harbor College. Maybe if I watch the DVD again. And again…

What goes around…

Monday, February 3rd, 2014
Mary Cleora Stone Richardson (from her memorial booklet)

Mary Cleora Stone Richardson (from her memorial booklet)

 Yesterday brought the discovery of a ‘new’ fourth cousin related to me through my maternal grandmother, Helen Richardson Espy.  Her name is Bonnie Meyer and she introduced herself to me in two different ways – in a comment on my blog and through an email note.  I am thrilled for reasons far beyond the discovery of an additional relative.

For starters, I am delighted that once again my blog attracted unexpected attention out there in cyberspace and that Bonnie initiated contact with me.  At that point, she had no idea that we were connected in any way except through knowledge of a nineteenth century artist, Mary Cleora Stone Richardson (1827-1904).  I had referred to “Aunt Cleora” in a March 2012 blog called “Tween Time.”

In reality, I am in no way related to Aunt Cleora.  She was married to my grandmother’s great uncle which makes her my three times great aunt by marriage.  Pretty distant, even for a “connection.”  But, I feel an affinity toward Aunt Cleora because she was a favorite of my grandmother’s and, more importantly, because we have many of her paintings in our house.

On the other hand, Bonnie is directly descended from Mary Cleora Stone Richardson. She was Bonnie’s grandmother’s grandmother.  Bonnie had done an internet search on Cleora’s name and came up with my blog.  How great is that?

Aunt Cleora's Cart Painting

Aunt Cleora’s “Cart” Painting

After I responded to her, she researched my “connection” and learned that we are directly related through my great-grandfather’s father, Horace Richardson.  I wonder if Bonnie knows that he was a circuit-riding preacher in California and, because he handed out Bibles as her spread “The Word,” he was known as “Bible Richardson.”  I’ll have to mention that to Bonnie and suggest that she read Willard Espy’s Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village.” Willard, of course, was the genealogist of our family and in that particular book wrote extensively about the Richardsons.  But… I digress.

Rev. Horace and Sarah (Rand) Richardson circa 1860

Rev. Horace and Sarah (Rand) Richardson circa 1860

Bonnie also emailed in more detail about Cleora’s paintings and asked if any of those that I have are signed.  Unbelievable as it seems (even to me), I’ve never thought to look.  For nigh unto eighty years Aunt Cleora’s painting have been so much a part of my life that looking for her signature never occurred to me!  It would be sort of like asking to check out a parent’s DNA – maybe a good idea if you are in doubt, but otherwise superfluous.

I printed out the latest email from Bonnie – all twenty pages of it! – and I believe it’s only the beginning of our conversation.  Meanwhile, I am motivated to do a photographic inventory of Aunt Cleora’s work if, for no other reason than to send the photographs to Bonnie.  No telling what more the two of us will learn as our discussion continues!

The Last Outhouse in Oysterville

Monday, January 20th, 2014
R.H. Espy Outhouse

R.H. Espy ‘Outhouse’ 2014

As far as I know, the little two-room shed just north of the Red House is the last outhouse in Oysterville.  It seems fitting, somehow, that it is a double-occupancy affair and that it is at the erstwhile home of one of the town’s founders, R. H. Espy.  It is a cut above the run-of-the-mill outhouse – certainly better than the one I remember here at my grandfather’s place back in the thirties.

It isn’t a two-holer in the usual sense of that expression.  There were actually two compartments separated by a wall, each little room with its own entrance door.  Now days there is a full floor – no hole going down, down, ‘down into elimination’ as one time resident Edith Olson so famously wrote of her outhouse at the Bardheim Dairy property.  Nor is there a typical bench style seat upon which the user could sit and read the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

Long ago the outhouse was converted from its original use to a shed for storing garden tools or firewood or who-knows-what.  I suspect that my great uncle Cecil (the youngest R.H. Espy son) did the conversion when he moved into the house after his retirement in the 1960s.  He had been a banker in Portland and was known for his thrifty ways and for his careful stewardship of the old house and grounds.

I also think that the outhouse was the only ‘facility’ available at the R.H. House until well into the Forties.  My uncle Willard and his (then) wife Hilda bought the house in 1946. Although they lived in upstate New York, it was their plan to spend summers with their children here in Oysterville – or at least Hilda would, and Willard would join them during his vacation weeks from Readers’ Digest where he was the Circulation and Public Relations Manager.

On March 31, 1946 Willard wrote a list of their plans for updating the 1871 structure.  Item #1 was: The bathroom… will be in the little service room off the kitchen.  That bathroom is still there.  It should be noted that it was not until FDR’s rural electrification program got to Oysterville in 1938 that homeowners finally had the luxury of electric pumps and could have running water and, luxury of luxuries, inside toilets.

H.A. Espy House and Outhouse c. 1940

H.A. Espy House and Outhouse c. 1940

I suspect that most full-time residents who could afford to do so installed inside plumbing almost immediately.  But, electricity was unreliable at best in those days, and homeowners kept the “privy out back” for a good many years against the days and weeks of winter power outages.  Since no one was residing in the R.H. Espy House full-time, there seemed no urgency in updating.  Not until Hilda faced living there with four little girls who were separated in age by less than three years!

I doubt that the outhouse is the original, by any means.  I don’t know when it was built or, perhaps re-built the last time.  I suspect it was there in the1960s when Uncle Cecil returned to his boyhood home and I imagine he fixed it up for use as a shed.  Or… maybe the conversion was done by his children or grandchildren or even more recently by his now-grown great-grandchildren,  I’ll have to ask my Red House Cousins…

Before the Red Cottage was red…

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013
Red Cottage 1973

Red Cottage 1973

During the Christmas holidays of 1956, my son Charlie, his father and I stayed in the Red Cottage.  At that time, it was owned by my grandfather who, at age 80 was “in his dotage” as the family said, and was being cared for by my aunt Mona in the white house across from the church where he had lived since 1902.  Charlie was seven months old and had come to Oysterville to pay his respects to his great-grandfather.  I have a picture him being tenderly held in Papa’s arms.

I think it was felt that it would be less confusing for Papa if we stayed in the cottage across the way.  It was not yet red and, as I remember, we just called it “the old courthouse” for it had served that purpose back in the 1860s before the two-story courthouse was built in 1875.  I do have a photo of the cottage as it looked when we stayed there – the outside, of course.  We didn’t often think to take pictures of interiors in those days.

What I do remember of the inside is that it had a chemical toilet in the hallway outside the bedroom and a pitcher pump affixed to the kitchen sink.  The house was not plumbed.  I don’t remember if it had electricity, but I doubt it.  I imagine we more-or-less camped there and spent most of the daytime hours visiting neighbors and showing off our new baby.  I do remember that we ate at Papa’s every night – lots of pot roast.  Mona was big on pot roast.

Red Cottage with Roses

Red Cottage 2006

Twenty years later, Willard and Louise Espy bought the cottage and painted it red.  They spent some weeks during the summer of 1976 ‘making improvements.’  Here is what he wrote to his friend Dr. Dorothy Page:

            22 July, 1976

Dear Doctor Dorothy,

            …We had a marvelous time at Oysterville.  The family owns a tiny cottage, built in 1860 – the oldest house in Oysterville, and certainly one of the oldest in that part of the state; it served for a time as county courthouse – and we are remodeling it – though that is perhaps too big-sounding a word – to make an occasional retreat.  It had a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two tiny bedrooms.  A year ago we knocked out the partition between the living room and one of the bedrooms, creating an L-shaped study-living room.  We installed a sizable fireplace in the south wall, and  put up bookshelves – too many, I’m afraid; there is space for more than 1,000 books, and so far we have found only about 100 that we felt like sparing from the New York apartment.  We also exchanged the single window before my desk for a double one, tempting me irresistibly to look out across the fields and bay when I should be writing.

            This year we spent virtually our whole stay at Oysterville painting spackling, puttying, laying carpets, and the like.  All that remains to be done in terms of basic changes is to double another window (over the eating area), knock a French door into the west wall of the living room, and add a deck out back so that we can enjoy the afternoon sun in privacy.  The furniture is only left-overs now, but we’ll change that gradually, as we can afford to.  We’ve already picked up a rather nice sideboard, 1890 Vintage, in Seattle…

I haven’t been inside the Red Cottage for many years and I imagine it is quite different now.  As they say, “Change happens…”

“The Espy Lineage Is Secure!”

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

img267My Uncle Willard Espy, son of Harry and grandson of Robert Hamilton was the genealogist of our branch of the family.  He spent more than sixty-five of his eighty-nine years tracing lineages and writing up his ‘discoveries’ for the edification of Espy family members, their spouses, and progeny.  It was his fondest wish that the Espy name be perpetuated through the R.H. line and he was hopeful for many years that he would be instrumental in that endeavor.

Willard’s first child, Ian,  was a boy, seemingly an assurance that in our line the Espy name would continue for at least another generation.  The child’s legal last name, however, became Anderson shortly after his  birth and he was estranged from Willard and the rest of the family from an early age.  Most of us have never even met him.  In one of those double whammies that fate often delivers, Willard was blessed with a second son (his sixth child) but, sadly, Jefferson died early and without issue.

In 1989, now a full generation ago, Willard wrote:

            Seventy of Robert’s and Julia’s 91 descendants are living; 21 are dead.  The latter group includes the couple’s eight children, 11 of their 18 grandchildren, and two of their 22 great-grandchildren.  There have been no deaths among the 33 great-great-grandchildren or the nine great-great-great-grandchildren.
            There is a shortage of male Espys to carry on the name.  Of the seven extant, three – R.H. Edwin(II.8); Willard Richardson (III.9), and John Carroll (III.17) – are in their 70s or 80s and cannot be relied on to sire additional progeny.  In the fourth generation, Ian at 54, and John Steven at 50, are still potential progenitors, but at this point I wouldn’t give odds. John Steven says he has already paid his dues, having had one son.  As for Ian, he was reared under his stepfather’s name, Anderson.  It is unclear whether his child, Andrew will eventually be known as Espy or Anderson, or even Reed, which is the name of his mother.
            So, of all Robert Hamilton’s 70 living descendants, only John Steven’s son Christopher seems a better than even bet to extend the Espy name into future generations.  I wish him a long and fruitful marriage and an abundance of male children.Benjamin Alexander Espy

The statistics have changed a great deal in the last twenty-four years.  Most interestingly, as it has turned out, Willard’s son Ian has taken the Espy name.  Willard’s grandson Andrew uses the Espy name, as well, as do Andrew’s three daughters.   

And, in this morning’s email I received the very welcome news that there is another cause for rejoicing among the R. H. Espy descendants.  My second cousin John writes: “The Espy lineage is secure.  Benjamin Alexander Espy was born May 16, 2013 to Christopher Espy and Monika Espy.”

 I can hear Willard clapping and cheering from on high!

Dreams, Choices, Bottom Lines

Friday, April 19th, 2013

1975, Nov. 24, Publicity Shot for Words at PlayYesterday’s mail brought the unwelcome news that my book about Willard Espy “in its current form is not one that fits the current WSU Press publishing goals.”  The letter, while disappointing in the extreme, contained good news as well as bad.  Or at least it seemed so to me.

Editor Robert Clark went on to say, “What you have given us is a charming, personal history of the Espy family and the town of Oysterville, with Willard at the center of the story.”  YES!  I’m so glad they ‘got’ that!  That was the point of the book.

In fact, Mr. Clark’s description is a very succinct version of what I, myself, had written in my initial proposal to WSU Press:  “Espy’s Own: Willard of Oysterville” is part biography, part memoir, part recollection and part historical narrative.  It is the story of author Willard Richardson Espy’s relationship to Oysterville, the tiny southwest Washington village where he grew up in the early decades of the twentieth century and where he was to spend many of the most important intervals of his next 88 years.

Book Cover for Dear MedoraMy intent (and the main reason for submitting the book to this particular publisher) was to write Willard’s biography in such a way that it would become a companion piece to Dear Medora:  Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years.  That book was published by WSU Press in 2007.  Unfortunately, it has sold sparingly; it hasn’t flown off the shelves.  It is definitely a “niche book” and, no doubt, was an unusual choice for an academic press.  Perhaps the fact that they had a different editor then had bearing on that decision.

According to reviewers, the charm of Dear Medora is its personal touch.  It gives readers an insider’s view of the Espy family and of Oysterville in the early twentieth century.  Ironically, this was at the heart of Mr. Clark’s objection to the manuscript about Willard:  “These personal memories, combined with family stories and excerpts from family correspondence, have a rather narrow focus, and no doubt would be of most interest to family and friends.”

He goes on to suggest that I consider rewriting the book along the lines of a “more traditional biography” or, barring that choice, to look at the possibility of self-publishing.  Or, as a third alternative, he says, WSU could serve as a “book packager” providing “editing, design, layout, and production services, and deliver to you any number of books you wish to distribute.”

Of course, the bottom line is money.  If Dear Medora had made more money for them… If marketing and distribution weren’t so spendy… If I had the financial ability to self-publish a book with the look and feel I envision… Or, I could bite the bullet and rewrite.

Perhaps my thoughts will clarify as my disappointment dissipates…

The Bother of January

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

I grew up thinking of January as a long, dark penance between Christmas and my birthday at the end of February.  These days it seems even darker and, actually, it is, given the contrast in day length between the Bay Area of California and Oysterville.  But now I can substitute “dreary” for “long.” As I age, the days pass more quickly but they are definitely colder, rainier and grayer here on the northwest coast.

In Oysterville, not much happens in January.  Most of the part-time residents are elsewhere.   The rest of us stick our noses outdoors on an ‘as needed’ basis – to get the mail, to restock the pantry or, for some, to walk the dog.  Or, in our case, to feed the chickens.  Days and weeks go by without seeing neighbors. Visitors to the church and village slow to one or two cars a day.

In the “Introduction” to his Oysterville book, Willard wrote:  In January, tens of thousands of brant, a seaweed-eating goose, lined the edge of the tide.  Their quacking was as mournful, and interminable as a Greek chorus.  About that I can only say “some things don’t change.”

Yesterday, between rain squalls, I took a walk around our garden looking for signs of hope.  There weren’t many yet, except for hundreds of still-tight buds on the camellia bushes.  They’ll be blooming by my birthday at the end of February – definitely a reward for the bother of January!

Fifty Shades of Pubic Hair

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Yesterday on NPR’s “Weekend Edition Sunday” host Rachel Martin talked with book critic Ron Charles of The Washington Post about the literary and linguistic phenomena which have sprung from the ‘romantic’ (some say “soft porn”) novel, Fifty Shades of Grey.  They talked about all the spin-offs – the articles, commentaries, and books that are Fifty Shades of Nearly Everything – of Tax Reform, of Grey Matter, of Santa, of Crazy.

What interested me most about the discussion was the information about the book’s beginnings as an e-book, that it went viral because of fan blogs and that each member of the publishing company is getting a $5,000 Christmas bonus!  In a climate in which many publishers are collapsing completely, the latter bit of news seemed huge.

So, of course, my thoughts went like this:  “I have a blog.  Perhaps I should rename it ‘Fifty Shades of Oysterville’ and put a kinky spin on it.  The goings on behind closed doors (or drawn blinds) in our little village, even historically, might increase readership and, somehow generate a bit of income…”

I could start things off with this excerpt from my Uncle Willard Espy’s 1977 book, Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village:

Aunt Dora justified the bawdiest story she ever told me as proof that even the most unregenerate sinner can be saved.  A certain Oysterville blade, she said, for years had been exceptional in his amorous successes, even against seemingly insuperable obstacles; if his current fancy was wife of the local Methodist minister, that only made the challenge more exciting.  His lack of fastidiousness gave him a head start; it mattered not a whit to him whether the female he was stalking was thin or stout, pocked or clear, red or white, young or old, wanton or virtuous.  The pleasure of the chase was all, and his percentage of successes was acknowledgedly phenomenal. To commemorate each new conquest he was in the habit of clipping off and binding with a thread a snippet of his love’s pubic hair.  These he kept in a brown paper sack, which on request he would produce for his friends, identifying the source of each snippet by its straightness, kinkiness, coarseness, fineness, or color.  The snippets ran the spectrum; some were golden, some brown, black, red, grizzled, or gray, and a surprising number white.  One youth was incensed to find a sorrel-colored specimen attributed to his own fiancée, whose hair happened to be a mouse brown; he charge that the hair had been clipped from a local horse, and a stallion at that.  But on his wedding night he found that her lower growth was as handsomely sorrel as the stallion’s.

When the brown paper sack was finally full, the young blade, by then less young, buried it in a secret place, married a fourteen-year-old virgin, and became a deacon.

If only Aunt Dora were still around!  I’m sure she had other almost-as-good tales of the same ilk.  Surely, “Fifty Shades of Oysterville” would put the village on the map and my bank balance on less precarious footing!