“One by Land; Two by Sea” on Wednesday!

September 30th, 2023

Tucker Wachsmuth, Storyteller, 2014

Did you mark your calendar?  The second-ever History Forum will convene at the Oysterville Schoolhouse at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, October 4th.  Speakers will be three of us “old ducks” — Dobby Wiegardt, Tucker Wachsmuth, and yours truly — and we’ll be talking about a subject near and dear to our hearts!  In fact, if it weren’t for what we’ll be telling you, we might not have been here at all!

Dobby with his grandfather’s hats, 2019.

We hope that you’ll have questions about our presentations — and, of course, hope even more fervently that we or someone among those gathered has the answers — or at least suggestions of where to find out.  Even more fervently, we hope that there may be some others among us who can share stories about their own ancestors who arrived in this area in the last half of the nineteenth century!

There are absolutely no prerequisites to attendance at the History Forum beyond an interest in Pacific County and Southwest Washington history.  And, whether you come to listen or to question or to share, you are bound to take away at least some new understandings about our past — maybe even some aha moments that illuminate the present.  You never can tell when the old-timers get to telling their stories!



Dianne Feinstein

September 29th, 2023

Dianne Feinstein (nee Goldman) in the 1950s at Stanford — a Stanford Magazine Photo

I was surprised at the tears that came unbidden when my morning edition of the New York Times announced that Dianne Feinstein had died.  I can’t say that I really knew her, though we went back a long time, Dianne and I.

We were at Stanford together back in ancient times — the fifties.  She, two-and-a-half years my senior, was in the class of ’55; I, in the class of ’57.  Her last name was Goldman; mine was Little.  And, though our paths may have crossed more than once in the two years we shared at Stanford, I only remember her (and vaguely, at that) as on the Women’s Senate at Branner Hall, one of two dorms for Freshmen women — which meant that she was a sort of a dorm assistant there.

However, I was at Roble Hall, the other (and much larger) dorm for Freshmen women (and where Dianne, herself had been as a Freshman.)  I don’t know how I would have come in contact with Dianne Goldman unless some of our dorm meetings were combined…  And, even so, that would have been “quite a many” young women as my mother would have said.  So I probably only remember Diane in retrospect — perhaps teaching us the appropriate Freshman behavior at our first pep rally at Lake Lagunita.

Entrance to the History Corner of the Stanford Quad

I suppose it’s possible that I ran across her going to a Western Civ class in the History Department (for I believe she was a history major) but it was years before I really had a chance to speak to her and now I don’t remember what we said.  She was living around the corner from a good friend of mine — a fellow-teacher in Hayward who happened to  live in San Francisco.  It was during the early 70s and though Dianne was not yet running for mayor, she was surely a mover and shaker in the City by the Golden Gate.

In 1979 Mayor Feinstein leads 15,ooo marchers in a 1st anniversary commemoration of the Mayor Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk assassination.

I say this only because the entire block around her house (actually, a mansion in my eyes) was cordoned off.  Always.  No parking.  And parking in that part of the city was at a premium — only on-street parking even for most of the residents whose old-fashioned apartment buildings didn’t have garages.  I remember going around and around and around the blocks looking for a place to snuggle in my VW bug.  It never occurred to me to go up to Dianne’s door and plead, “For old time’s sake…”  Especially when we didn’t really share any of those old times!  But once, as I walked by her house, having parked three blocks from my destination, we did come face-to-face and exchanged a few words.  I wonder what they were.

Nevertheless, I was definitely a Dianne fan and her death saddened me in many ways.  Mostly, it was yet another wake-up call that my generation is fast disappearing and Dianne Feinstein was one of the best of us.   We are all impoverished by her passing.

The Hardest Part…

September 28th, 2023

Bethenia Owens-Adair — Teacher or Doctor?

I really am having so much fun researching these “Saints or Sinners” stories!  And, every once in a while, a reader tells me how much they are enjoying them and that makes it even better.  And then just today, when I called Pete Heckes with a question about the name of the slough near the Moby Dick — it’s “Paul’s Slough” — he straightened me out on few errors in my story about Peter Jordan — you know, the guy who was so badly hurt when he and a buddy overloaded the cannon they had in Oysterville in the olden days.  Blew it to smithereens. And very nearly themselves along with it.

Well, we got to talking, and when all was said and done, I never used the Paul’s Slough information as I intended and I turned in my story without it.  Oh well.  If I ever find a publisher for these gems, I hope I remember to fine tune a few things!

But finding the details of the stories isn’t the hardest part.  It’s finding the illustrations — preferably photographs of the characters I’m writing about.  When you get back to stories before 1900, it gets harder.  Today, I was looking for a picture of a man who died in 1877.  “Fat chance!” thought I!  After all, he’d come west in the 1830s and just how many photographers do you think might have been doing studio portraits around here over the next 40 years?

John Edmunds or John Pickernell?

However — wonder of wonders! — I found one!  Or at least it purports to be the very man I was looking for — on the Find a Grave site which, besides photographs, contains a storehouse of wonderful information.  Is it all true?  I think as true as any information that comes to us over the years.  The people I’ve met who gather information for Find a Grave seem diligent to a fault.

And while I’m at it, if you are a “Saints or Sinners” reader and have additional information for me, don’t be shy.  If I use the information and find that publisher, I promise I’ll give you full credit!

Not Since The Civil War

September 27th, 2023

Senator Foghorn Leghorn

Nothing much in the news  surprises me anymore — mostly because I seldom pay much attention to anything beyond our local area.  (As in what’s the use?)

But there was a paragraph  in this morning’s NYT article on Menendez which did catch my eye: When politicians are unlikely to be removed, they rarely quit, and Menendez faces little risk of removal. Only the Senate can expel one of its members. It has not done so since the Civil War.

Really???  Not since the Civil War?  Not for 161 years?

Foghorn Leghorn Again

When I looked up more about it, it all became clear — and made me more disgusted than ever.  Basically, the ten senators who were removed at the beginning of the Civil War were from the southern states and they were removed for doing what their states had directed them to do.  In other words, they were doing their jobs.

Those opposed to the 1861 expulsion measure, argued that the southern senators followed the directions of their states and that no senator individually had conspired against the government.  They suggested that the expulsion rule should be reserved for individual acts of misconduct, since formal expulsion of the southern senators would only exacerbate an already inflamed situation. One of those in opposition to expulsion said he believed expulsion implied moral turpitude, a stain upon the personal character of the individuals that most would agree was unjust [in this case.]

And Yet Again

My mind whirls and twirls.  If I, as a teacher, had followed the directions of my principal, even though those directions were contrary to popular belief, should I have been fired?   But then, how can a lowly teacher compare herself to a high and mighty senator — one with gold bars secreted in the clothes of his closet.  No contest, folks.

We are so screwed up.  The mind boggles and the eyes overflow.  I KNOW BETTER than to read the news.  Shame on me!




Thunder! Lightning! Gullywashers! Oh my!

September 26th, 2023

It might have looked like this but it was too fast for my faulty eye-brain coordination!

Linda and I met for breakfast this morning.  It was nine o’clock — a civilized hour I thought.  It was raining, but not really buckets — although I did wonder if the puddle waiting outside my car door was going to go up, up, and inside my loafers.  It was a very close thing.

So there we were, I with my back to the front window, enjoying my first bite of hash browns and darned if a dancing sunbeam didn’t light up my life.  Followed in Nano-seconds by a KABOOM that completely disabused me of that sunbeam idea!  Good Lord!  The sky didn’t even look all that stormy.

And, just as I was getting to bite four or five (with a few bites of sausage patty in between!) here it came again.  Only this time the lightning and the thunder were as one.  No space in between.  No way to tell which came first.  But I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the chicken OR the egg.

Nevertheless, we had a lovely time.  When we finally decided we should make a break for it, I noted that the puddle was now quite a bit deeper than it had been.  So I went on tiptoe as fast as ever I could.  BUT WAIT!  Someone was calling me!  I hadn’t paid, a voice called out.  Yes I did! and squelched into my car.  Doncha hate it when everything happens at once like that?

I’m pretty sure it didn’t look like this.

Well, I didn’t drive clear off and the waitress, bless her, figured that I was coming over to park on higher ground — which I was.  It seems she had forgotten to take my credit card and, after a time, I thought she had brought it back.  So… I scooped it up and boogied out of there.  I felt bad for being such a dolt.  She felt bad for not taking the card right away.

And do you think the Bard was right?  Will the rain it raineth every day??

Mail Service Just Ain’t What It Used To Be!

September 25th, 2023

U.S. Rural Carrier Mail Truck, 1910

I haven’t been sending Cuzzin Ralph many research questions lately and he’s one of those guys who finds his own projects if you don’t keep him busy!  He just sent me some interesting clippings about our U.S. Postal Service back in the day.

Apparently, parcel post was introduced in 1913 and customers were very enthusiastic about the new service.  They immediately began taking advantage of the new expanded regulations to mail things like live bees,  eggs, produce, harmless live animals and, said Jenny Ashcraft in a blog for newspapers.com,  “even an entire building one brick at a time!”

But, most interesting to me were the clippings that she included in her post regarding the shipment of live babies!  Human babies, that is.

From The Minden Courier:  January 30, 1913
Real Baby in Parcels Post
Batvia, O. — A mail carrier on rural route No. 5, out of this place is the first to accept and deliver under parcels post conditions a live baby.  The baby, a boy, weighing 10 and 3/4 pounds, just within the eleven-pound limit, is the child of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beagle, of Near Glen.  The package was well wrapped and ready for “mailing” when the carrier got it.  Its measurement reached seventy-two inches, also just within the law, which makes seventy-two inches the limit.  The postage was 15 cents and the “parcel” was insured for $50.

1910s Mail Delivery

Older children were also sent through the mails and the situation began to prompt both serious objections from the public as well as tongue-in-cheek articles in daily newspapers such as this one in an the February 22, 1914 issue of the San Francisco Examiner:
TO MAIL CLERKS, RAILWAY SERVICE — Babies by parcel post should be fed every four hours at expense of clerks.  Do not stick stamps on baby’s face.  All railway mail clerks must pass an examination to qualify in the art of dressing babies and also in the knowledge of handing safety pins.  Feeding is optional, but it is not advisable to give babies franfurters or boiled dinners. Babies sent by parcel post must be delivered to some one at address.  Do not leave them on front doorsteps or in the mailboxes in rural districts.  If addressee refuses to accept such mail, wire postmaster general for instructions

Mailing A Letter, 1920

When older children got into the act, they often had their own opinions about their mailing conditions:
Girl Sent By Parcel Post.
Phoenix Ariz. Oct. 23, 1919 — Audray Lenore Christy, six years old, arrived here today from Los Angeles, the first human parcel post package ever sent to Phoenix.  When the little girl was met at the station by her parents, she said she liked the trip all right, but wished “they hadn’t stuck those ugly tags on my new dress and sweater.”  Audray traveled by Pullman.

Gradually, postal officials across the country began refusing to accept children in parcel post. Some incurred the wrath of angry parents who demanded the right to mail their children.  Finally, in 1920, the Postmaster General ruled that children could no longer be sent through the mail.


Money, News, and Other Random Thoughts

September 24th, 2023

At last! It’s time for my signature chapeau to make its reappearance!

I can’t decide whether that advertisement that prefaces the NYT Morning in my inbox each day is meant to piss me off or give me hope.  Usually, it’s the former.  “7 ways to Retire Comfortably With $500k” it says.  Well… duh!  In my world that wouldn’t take rocket science.

I ignore the ad and scan the headlines, looking to see if there is anything pertinent in the day’s news that could make a big difference to the reality of my own retired life — a life in which the words(?), symbols(?) of “$500k” have no substantive meaning at all.  Sometimes I wonder if the NYT news, itself is slanted toward those who fit the “retired on $500k” category.  On the days I think “yes, probably” I move on to other concerns.

It’s not news to my friends that I’m not very well informed on the “big issues” that are of current times.  Or even the smaller ones.  I try to keep current on local news — mostly so I won’t be arrested for burning during the burn bans (and btw, our current one has been lifted as of today) and know when to batten down for a big storm that’s barreling in on us.  (Actually, that last one isn’t rocket science as our forebears knew very well.)

Always at the ready in Oysterville.

It’s not that I have “given up” hope for effecting change toward a better world.  Not even that I despair of “setting an example” for others or “influencing” the way young people think.  It’s just that keeping abreast of the “news” seems an incredible waste of the time I have left, whatever amount that might be.

Mostly, I think it’s what  Confucius said: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” And besides, I zoom every week with son Charlie and bonus-daughter Marta.  I can count on them to keep me up-to-date (whether or not I buy into that $500k thing.)  And it looks like rain is on its way to us in Oysterville right now.  Yay!  Life is good!

Tomorrow is the first day of fall… or is it?

September 22nd, 2023

NOW they tell me!  Doncha just hate it when you go through life thinking you understand something and then you find that you don’t.  Not even a little bit.

I thought I understood that tomorrow, September 23 is going to be the fall (or autumnal) equinox  And I thought I understood that the word “equinox” comes from two Latin words meaning equal and night.  And, therefore, on the fall (and spring) equinoxes there are 12 hours of day and 12 hours of night.  That is, of course, if we are dividing the seasons astronomically — that is based on Earth’s position as it rotates around the sun.

But apparently, there’s another way to divide the seasons and that is meteorologically, based on annual temperature cycles. If we are reckoning that way, fall arrived September 1st!  Go figure.

My advice:  Put on a sweater.  And a hat if it’s raining.  Because any way you slice it, fall is upon us and winter won’t be far behind!

My Ever-Gentle Grandmother

September 21st, 2023

Today, while looking “one last time” (or so I always think) for family papers that should be added to the Espy Archive at the Washington State Research Center in Tacoma, I ran across this poem in my grandmother’s distinctive Victorian script:

Somebody didn’t wipe the dishes dry!
How do I know?  Because I saw them cry.

Yes, crying as they sat upon the shelves —
I saw them and they couldn’t help themselves.

They made no noise; each plate was in its place,
But, oh, two tears were on the platter’s face!
Oh, don’t you think a little girl is mean
Whose dishes cry because they’re not wiped clean?

Drawing by Helen Medora Richardson, 1897

How I wish I’d run across this poem before my mother died.  Was she the little girl that it was meant for?  Or was it for one of her three older sisters?  What a lovely way to gently reprimand a child!  I can’t help but wonder if there were other such notes posted now and then as my mother and her siblings were growing up.

I also came across some of my grandmother’s drawings — done in 1887 when she was eight or nine years old.  She and her friend Mary Wallace spent many hours together making paper dolls, writing and illustrating small storybooks, and drawing pictures of their daily activities.  The drawing I used here, though done many years before she married and had children of her own, seems to go perfectly with the “Poem of Reprimand” — my name for it; I’m sure my grandmother would never have been so directly critical!


Sometimes it’s hard to choose…

September 20th, 2023

To read?  Or to write?  To have a day — or even better two days in a row — to do one or the other is my idea of heaven, especially if I have the leisure to spend just enjoying myself.  No deadlines.  No necessary research.  No over-riding “reason” to do one or the other.

Today I chose to write.  There will be deadlines involved soon, but I have ten days or so to blather on, delete, explore new avenues, and let my thoughts take me where they will.  Luxury to the max!  So… I spent time on two totally disparate themes.  One was “cops and robbers” and the other was “unexpected public music.”  Both (or neither) may turn into columns for the paper.

I had fun with both of them but one is too long and the other… perhaps too bland.  I’m not sure.  So, I’ve put them both on the back burner for now, am going to treat myself to my favorite all-time pasta dish — Sandy Stonebreaker’s chicken tetrazzini accompanied by sautéed snap peas with a lemon zest garni.  And then… I’ll read a Donna Leon book on my Kindle —  Give Unto Others, the 31st in her Guido Brunetti series that came out last year.  Somehow I missed it.

Dobby, Sydney, Tucker

And one more bit of perfection on this day — Tucker and I went over to  Dobby Wiegardt’s so we could have our pictures taken together!  Tucker took a selfie of the three of us.  Great picture except I look like I’m standing in a hole.  A deep one!  However, I think it will serve its purpose.  I’ll let you be the judge when you see it its proper context in the paper next week!