Posts Tagged ‘Historic Oysterville Church’

Ready for the Next Million Plus

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018

I’m not talking dollars here, although that would be nice.  I’m talking feet – as in pedestrian foot traffic in and out of the Oysterville Church.  Although math has never been my strong suit, I think that over the past forty years, many more than a million feet have walked along the walkway into and out of the church. Now that the walkway has been replaced for the first time since the early eighties, I think it’s ready for the next million or so.

This is how I figured it:  10,000 visitors a year (according to signatures in the guest books) times two feet each is 20,000 steps in – 40,000 when you count the exit process; times 40 (more or less) years.  That makes 1,600,000 feet that have marched, hopped, dragged, or sauntered their owners into our little church to have a look around.  No wonder that wooden walkway needed replacing.

New, also, is the porch deck and the four posts that support the railing. All that’s needed is a little paint and the entrance will be ready for the summer onslaught.  Yay!  Of course, all this begs the greater question of the wear and tear on the church floor within.  The last time it was refinished, as in stripped and sanded and resealed, we were told “that’s it.  The floor will be compromised if another layer comes off.”

And then there are the dear old, uncomfortable pews.  They, too are beginning to show their age.  Who wouldn’t after being sat on for 116 years?  But like Scarlett, I choose to think about that tomorrow.  Or maybe not at all…  As the old Polish proverb goes, “not my circus; not my monkeys.”

Church Work in Oysterville

Saturday, April 14th, 2018

When we say, “There’s a lot of church work going on in town,” it’s a literal statement.  We aren’t referring to the faithful going door-to-door spreading the Good News. Nor are we talking about church ladies slaving away over hot stoves so their husband can take meals to those in need.  No.  We are talking about work of the hammer-and-nails variety.

Day before yesterday the lumber arrived and was stashed in the “rear-behind” (another of my mother’s idiosyncratic expressions) of the church.  Yesterday, the work was to begin… and, eventually did, but not until Friday-the-thirteenth had her way with the workman.  Apparently, there was also lumber waiting at the schoolhouse and, the workman not knowing one steeple from another, went and made some repairs on the schoolhouse porch.  The mistake was discovered only after he had completed the job.  Whoops!

It couldn’t have been too extensive an undertaking because, by late morning, there was a flurry of activity at the church.  The porch railing and supports: down.  The porch deck: gone.  The walkway: cordoned off.  And by day’s end, despite the “Church Open” sign… it wasn’t.  Of course, this morning it is pouring rain, so it remains to be seen if progress will continue apace.

I believe the plan is to replace the walkway, the porch deck, and one of the posts that support the porch railing.  It should be completed in plenty of time for Oysterville’s Memorial Day celebration at the end of May.  Also, perfect timing for a busy summer ahead.  Weddings lined up for the months ahead and, beginning on Father’s Day, June 17th – the 43st annual Music Vespers series gets under way.  Perfect timing, schoolhouse repairs notwithstanding!

Lost Days and Missed Opportunities

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

Just Across the Street

The worst part of being sick is all that time that has simply gone away.  Days and days of limbo which is described by my dictionary as an uncertain situation that you cannot control and in which there is no progress or improvement. That is an absolutely precise description of my situation from Sunday, March 11th through Monday, March 19th!  Limbo!  And not in a dancing kind of way either.

Somehow, I managed to meet a few writing deadlines.  Even wrote my blog as usual until I simply couldn’t force myself out of bed, even for a few minutes.  But then, whatever had invaded my body took total charge and time marched on without me.  I just hate that.  I am so fortunate to have been blessed with good health throughout my life – never missed a day in high school – and not afterwards, either.  In all our married life, this is the first time my long-suffering husband has seen me down and out.

Oysterville Church Vestibule

I remember that my mother used to describe one or two of her acquaintances as “a person who enjoys poor health.”  She emphasized the word “enjoys” and I took it to mean those people (usually women, sad to say) who, when asked how they are, answer with a litany of complaints.  One learns not to ask.  I never wanted to be one of those women.

The very worst part of this particular siege is that I have missed out on visiting with Carol and Ray Hansen.  They are here in Oysterville partly through my doing so I feel doubly upset.  For their working years, they lived in Seaview and I think we gradually became acquainted in the 1990s.  We were refurbishing the interior of the house – a necessity after having it insulated from the inside.  Someone (who we owe bigtime) suggested Ray who, it turned out, is the best paper hanger ever!  Every room in our house says so!

It may have been back that far that he began patching and mending the wallpaper in the church “as a favor.”  And about that time, too, we became acquainted with his wife Carol and found we had mutual friends and sometimes we partied together and… you know how it goes here on the Peninsula.  When they moved to Utah we were devastated, though we have managed visits back and forth.

Nearby, Ray’s at Work!

When the Oysterville Restoration Foundation needed some serious work done on the church wallpaper recently, we recommended Ray…and no sooner had they arrived and made themselves cozy in the Oysterville Guesthouse than I collapsed.  I’m so afraid Ray is almost finished with his work.  Right across the street and I haven’t managed to get a single photograph, say a single encouraging word or left my sickbed to even catch a glimpse of  Carol.  And I have the woozy, hazy thought that she came calling a couple of times, too!

Such a time-waster, this sick business!  I’m so so sorry.

Christmas Vespers in Oysterville

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

Christmas 2009

If you count a generation as twenty years, the Oysterville summer vesper services have spanned two of them!  By now, if you say “vespers” to anyone who lives in the area, they automatically think of music and the little historic church across the street from our house.  They might even think “three o’clock on Sunday.”  That kind of association says “tradition” in the truest sense of the word!

So… when Diane Buttrell mentioned Christmas Vespers and the Bayside Singers in the same breath, I knew exactly what she was talking about.  It will happen at 3:00 next Sunday, December 17th, at the Oysterville Church.  It won’t involve a “service”… not exactly.  Although there will be at least one minister involved – Barbara Bate, who will be wearing her pianist hat and accompanying the singers.

Christmas 2008

And it won’t be a “performance”… not exactly.  Although the beloved Barbara Poulshock will, indeed, be directing the Bayside Singers in several Christmas presentations and there will be two solo offerings, as well.  Teresa Goodwin will be singing ” Pie Jesu” and her father, Dobby Wiegardt, also a member of the Bayside Singers, will do his traditional reading of the Christmas Story from the book of Luke.

Welcome, All!

There may be a few more surprises in store (as anything ‘Christmas’ should always include), but organizer Diane is quick to point out that the stars of the afternoon will be the audience, themselves. In concert (so to speak) with the Bayside Singers, it will be all of us who will “make the rafters ring” with the old, familiar Christmas carols.  Call it a sing-along or a performance or a service or whatever you like!  Just come on to Oysterville a week from today.

How I hope the church is full-to-overflowing and that our voices are heard from one end of the village to the other – and even out onto the bay!  “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” begins the 100th psalm.  Yes!  Let’s!

Two Barbaras, One Larry and…

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

Barbara Poulshock- Cate Gable Photo

…a new roof in progress!  All that and more (as they say) at this Sunday’s Music Vespers service at the Oysterville Church!  As always, Father’s Day marks the first of the twelve summer vesper programs at the historic church.  In addition, it will herald the beginning of our fortieth vesper season here in Oysterville!

Forty years!  “Quite a many!” as my mother, Dale Espy Little, would have said.  I wonder if she realized, when she and dad first conceived the vespers idea, that those services would become synonymous with summer Sunday afternoons in the village.

Dr. Barbara Bate – Sydney Stevens Photo

That vespers keep the ecumenical use of the church alive; that vespers would bring in a good portion of the money needed to maintain the old building; that musicians and audiences would be overjoyed at the acoustics in the little structure – all these things were what mom and dad hoped for.  They would be so pleased that their vision has continued all this time.

I think they would also be pleased about the new roof in progress.  Never mind that it probably won’t be completed by Sunday!  Just the fact that the Oysterville Restoration Foundation was awarded a $15,000 grant by the Kinsman Foundation of Oregon would delight them.  And I have no doubt that they would already be planning a fundraiser to make up for the $5,000 shortfall that seems likely!

Larry Freshley, c. 1951

Meanwhile, I know for a fact that Sunday’s ‘headliners’ – composer and renowned piano and voice teacher Barbara Poulshock, interdenominational minister, author and pianist Barbara Bate, and Oysterville School alumnus Larry Freshley – would more than “fill the bill” for the opening service in the eyes of my folks. And, they would heartily approve of the mysterious (yet, for Barbara Poulshock ‘traditional’) program note, “Barbara and Friends,” that tempts speculation right up until the service begins.

Roof Progress as of 6/11/17

Most of all, how pleased they would be that the entire vespers idea and its yearly planning has taken on a life of its own.  This marks year three that Carol Wachsmuth (bless her!) is doing all the scheduling.  The Espy family is finally out of the church loop – “as God intended” say I!  Vespers at the beginning of its 40th year has definitely come of age.  It has taken a village… and will continue to do so!   On behalf of R.H. Espy — who had the church built back in 1892 — and on behalf of all his descendants who kept it going, I for one couldn’t be happier!

Coming Up On Wedding Season!

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

A Venerable Name

Maybe it was our shared last name.  “Almost” I should say.  Hers is with a ‘ph’ instead of a ‘v’.  For whatever reason, we had a wonderful chat on the telephone and I felt I had met a new friend – and her family!

She called about renting the church for her August wedding.  The date she had in mind was available, I penciled her in on the calendar and, under normal circumstances, that would have been that!  But, somehow, we got to talking about officiants and paperwork and whether there might be out-of-state-requirements (wouldn’t you think I’d know that, but I don’t) which led to discussion of a part-time family place in Ocean Park which led to…

“My father reads your blog every day!”

“Really?  Do we know each other?”

A Venerable Venue

“No.  But …”  And she told me the most marvelous story about the agreement she and her twin sister made with her dad a few years back.  The girls would come to the Peninsula every weekend for a year (no matter what) and, together, they would build a house.  Then, they would sell it and share the proceeds.  “It was the best experience I’ve ever had!”

During the construction process, she began a blog, specifically to tell about the building experience and “mostly for my father’s benefit.”  Apparently, it was during that time that Mr. Stephens ‘discovered’ my Oysterville Daybook blog and became a ‘fan.’

Bridal Bouquet

“You have become the center of many family discussions” the bride-to-be told me!  “We know all about you!”

Can you imagine?  I was all smiles the rest of the evening.  I want to read the house-building blog.   I want to see the house they built.  And I want to meet the family!  The wedding date is set for the day after Nyel’s birthday.  If we are home, I intend to keep an eye on the church.  Perhaps I can go chat them up when they are decorating or beginning to gather for the big event…

Or maybe they’ll come knocking at our door.  I’d like that.  It happens fairly often during the wedding season but meeting the ‘ph’ namesakes would take my scheduling duties to a whole new level!

If I had pots of money…

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

Church Vestibule, Oysterville

Sometimes we play that “if we won the lottery…” game and we go off on wonderful fantasies – like the trips we’d take and the new car we’d buy and the charities we’d donate to.  Unfortunately, these wild spending fantasies always end with “but first we’d have to buy a ticket.”  And, like playing the slots or betting on the horses (or whatever people bet on these days), our shekels are just too hard-earned to fritter away.

At this time of year when every good cause and charity in Christendom is vying for our attention, I am tempted to fly a banner for the house for all to see:  “Our Disposable Income is Already Accounted For.”  And if we had any, it surely would be.  Accounted for, that is.  No problem.

In the best charity-begins-at-home fashion, number one on our priority list is the Oysterville Church.  Next comes the Oysterville Cemetery.  For lack of that imaginary lottery money, we make those two causes our first and foremost priorities in as many other ways as we can during the year.  But it occurs to me that we, too, should have been sending out reminders to people that both Church and Cemetery would be grateful recipients of their end-of-the-year charitable donations.

Entrance, Oysterville Cemetery

Last year, one of the ‘kids’ who grew up in Oysterville arranged for a monthly contribution to be sent to the Oysterville Cemetery Association directly from her bank.  It’s not a large amount – you couldn’t take yourself out to dinner on it – but month after month, here it comes.  It adds up!  And, as Secretary/Treasurer of the organization, I am reminded with each deposit that it we had ten or twenty such donations each month, our maintenance and upkeep worries would be over.  Ditto the church.

So, I think that will be my mission in 2017.  My terms are up on both the Oysterville Restoration Foundation Board and the Cemetery Association Board.  Time to switch gears and do a little public relations work for each organization, perhaps.  But, in the meantime, and before I begin my campaign in earnest, if anyone out there does win the lottery, do keep Oysterville in mind!

The Heavenly Ladies of Lyrica

Sunday, August 28th, 2016
Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Pugent Sound - Oysterville 2014

Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Pugent Sound – Oysterville 2014

In July 2011, I wrote: The Lyrica Ladies Choral Ensemble of Puget Sound will sing at the Oysterville Music Vespers service Sunday, July 17, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. …
According to Lyrica’s director, LeeAnne Campos, the group has been together for ten years and has performed in Oysterville “seven or eight times.”
Based in Tacoma, the group’s connection to the peninsula can be traced back to LeeAnne’s student days at Pacific Lutheran University when she studied voice with local pianist/composer Barbara Poulshock who was then part of the voice faculty at PLU.  

Change the dates and numbers a bit and I could write the same thing today.  Vespers on this August afternoon features the Lyrica Ladies!  I don’t think they have missed a single summer at the Oysterville Music Vespers in all the years since 2011 which puts them well into the double digit category of Vespers participation.

Inside the Oysterville Church

Inside the Oysterville Church

Over the years, the Ensemble has increased in numbers to the point that the dais in the little Oysterville Church can no longer accommodate them.  A few years ago LeeAnne told me that she had considered just having a part of the group sing – much like our local Bayside Singers have had to do.  “But,” LeeAnne said later, “all of the ladies wanted to be included; none wanted to stay behind.”

So they found another way to distribute themselves in the little church so they could all participate in making their marvelous music.  They lined themselves up in the aisles and sang from there, giving the audience a ‘surround sound’ experience.  Wow!  Talk about feeling like you’d  ‘died and gone to heaven’!

I’m not sure what their plan is today but, no matter what, the music will be exactly perfect for in its historic setting – a choir of angels right here in Oysterville.  Officiating at the service will be Pastor Tom Elkins of the Ocean Park Methodist Church.  Sandra Nielsen will play the organ and, for the only time this summer, the ‘Oysterville Moment” will be mine.  See you there!

Remembering ‘Bayview’

Monday, August 22nd, 2016
Charles Nelson House, 1975

Charles Nelson House, 1975

Notwithstanding Fr. Don Maddux’s spot-on homily (doing a kindness is always timely and appropriate), it was the Staub family who took center stage at Vespers yesterday – Paul with his ‘Oysterville Moment’ and his wife and son in a musical presentation featuring Celtic harp and mandolin, respectively.  The Oysterville Church was jam-packed.

CD Front Cover - 'Bayview'

CD Front Cover – ‘Bayview’

Paul talked about their house here in Oysterville.  He told of its condition when they purchased it twenty-five years ago – no foundation, rotting boards throughout the single wall construction, mortar long-gone from between chimney bricks and ditto the glazing compound around the window panes.  Plus there were many unseen ‘occupants’ who had taken up residence in the tiny, 1873 Charles Nelson house.  There were powder post beetles and carpenter ants in the walls, a bat colony inside the chimney, and a huge pack rat’s nest in the attic, There were electricity and running water, but no inside bathroom.  Only an outhouse.

CD Back Cover - Photo of Colin heading across the meadow to work in the oyster beds

CD Back Cover – Photo of Colin heading across the meadow to work in the oyster beds

But, its name ‘Bayview’ seemed promising even though, at that time, the meadow across the street was so overgrown that there was no bay to be seen.  Bit by bit, the Staub family fumigated and cleaned and rebuilt and replaced.  A few years ago they put an addition on the tiny house making it a livable vacation home for their family of four.  These days, with the meadow kept mowed and view intact, ‘Bayview’ is not only a reality, but has become the title for Kathleen and Colin’s new CD “to acknowledge the importance the bay has in our lives.”

The Vespers bulletin had this to say, in part, about the musicians: “Kathleen and Colin led the harp circle at the Portland Highland Games in July, and played some sets with the Scottish fiddlers… They are active in the Scottish Fiddling Club of Oregon even though Kathleen plays harp and Colin plays mandolin.  Colin started out as a fiddler until he heard (from Spud Seigel) that the mandolin was tuned just like a fiddle.  He has been playing mandolin ever since.

The Charles Nelson House after Restoration, 2006

The Charles Nelson House after Restoration, 2006

Their CD was on sale after Vespers.  “Half the proceeds will go to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation,” Kathleen announced.  “The church needs a new roof and I hope this begins a fund for that purpose.”

Here Come the Rose City Mixed Quartet!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016
The Elegant RCMQ!

The Elegant RCMQ!

Sunday, July 31st! It sounded so far in the future way last February when Carol Wachsmuth, coordinator/scheduler of Oysterville Vespers, booked the Rose City Mixed Quartet.  And here they come!  They arrive at our house on Saturday and, as always, I feel like my family is coming for a visit!  That they are performing on Sunday seems almost incidental. (But don’t tell Carol!)

We first met these four remarkable people back in 2008 or 2009 when I surprised myself by walking up to a good looking man in Astoria and asking if he and his friends might consider coming to Oysterville someday to sing.  It was probably a surprise to him, too.

The Traveling RCMQ!

The Traveling RCMQ!

He turned out to be Mark Petersen and the reason I was so cheeky in talking to him was that he and his three companions had just serenaded a bunch of us who were waiting in wind and drizzle for the Liberty Theater to open.  The four of them, Mark (bass), Cameron Herbert (soprano), Dale Webber (tenor), and Helen Dietz (alto), are the Rose City Mixed Quartet from Portland.  Like the rest of the crowd on that blustery day, they were waiting for the theater doors to open and spontaneously decided that a little diversion was in order.  Their music was the beginning of a joyous association for Nyel and me.

Over the years they have performed at many of our Oysterville House Concerts and at Summer Music Vespers.  They surprised us a few year ago by singing at our 25th anniversary party and, again, just last February at my 80th birthday.  They even came to do the special music for our friend Carol Nordquist’s funeral service.  Always (unless our house is full), they stay here and our time together is full of laughter and conversation and sharing pictures of our travels and our families.

Rose City Mixed Quartet in Oysterville

The RCMQ in Oysterville

It is really hard to express how some folks (these folks) are, in ‘real life,’ exactly as they present themselves on stage.  They are funny, caring, and intelligent with all the values and character traits you hope for in your own children.  We consider ourselves fortunate that they have adopted us as their Beach Family.  Do come to Vespers and meet them!  Sunday at 3:00 at the Oysterville Church!