Posts Tagged ‘Historic Oysterville Church’

Concerning Roses and the Oysterville Church

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Oysterville Church On Its 10th Anniversary, 1902

In Act II, Scene II of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” young Juliet says:  What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.  I think of those words now and again when things near and dear to my heart are not given their due.   Or when they are confused with something else.

In the last two days, such has been the case of the Oysterville Church.  Twice.  Yesterday, someone mistakenly thought the Church came under the auspices of the Oysterville Community Club (abbreviated OCC).  Our little church is actually owned and operated by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF).  It’s an easy mistake to make, especially given the size of our village and the fact that there are only two buildings available for public use – the schoolhouse and the church.  The schoolhouse, still owned by the Ocean Beach School District, is managed by the OCC.  The church is another matter.

Oysterville Schoolhouse, 1940s

Not only do people confuse who owns which building, they get the buildings themselves confused.  Mostly, those are people not overly familiar with Oysterville.  After all, both structures have a belfry.  Historically, both have been painted white.  Both are “old-fashioned” – built within 15 years of each other.  The church was built in 1892; the schoolhouse in 1907.  Perhaps if you’ve only seen them once or twice, you could get mixed up.  Perhaps.

But even worse than getting the church’s ownership confused is getting its location wrong!  This very morning, I received an email that said: I am happy to tell you that Oysterville Church was chosen for the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards in the category of Church. The Best of Ocean Park Award was created to acknowledge the best businesses in our community.

Oysterville Church by Bob Duke

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Ocean Park is a fine community.  But it is not Oysterville.  Our little Historic Church defines our National Historic District and is symbolic of our Oysterville community which was the first to be established on the west side of Shoalwater Bay back in 1854.  Until the 1880s, it was the ONLY community on the Peninsula and it is, nowadays, the oldest village in Pacific County.  Choosing our church for “the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards” is just plain wrong.  No matter how the roses smell!

Never-ending Entertainment and Inspiration

Sunday, November 25th, 2018

Capturing Doorknob Detail

The church across the street is what I’m talking about here – a constant source of pleasure!  And, this time, I’m not talking about what happens inside it’s hallowed walls, either.  I don’t have to set foot over the threshold to be mesmerized by the building and its calling.  Heck, I don’t even have to go outside my house.  The view through my dining room windows is sufficient.

Yesterday afternoon when I glanced out, I was rewarded by a sight you don’t see much these days – a photographer with his 8 x 10 view camera set up on the church porch double checking his light meter and, apparently, bracketing his shots.  I don’t think I’ve seen a view camera in Oysterville since 1964 when Marta’s dad, (my then-husband) Bill LaRue was here for a family reunion.  But, in that case, I’m pretty sure it was his 4 x 5 speed graphic, not an 8 x 10.

I went out and asked the photographer if he minded me taking a picture of him with my cell phone.  We both laughed.  It seemed so wrong and yet…  It was he who called himself an anachronism and I who said that he could be speaking of the entire village, so it seemed just right.  We got to talking and it did not surprise me in the least to find that before he began to do serious black and white photography, he was into re-enacting.

“One of them arty fellas,” Bob Meadows would have called him.  (see http://sydneyofoysterville.com/2016/one-of-them-arty-fellas/).  “Zane Heath from Aloha, Oregon,” I think he said but he didn’t offer me a business card so I’m not so sure of the spelling.  He told me his work could be seen on Instagram (which I don’t do) and that he had a website (which I can’t find) that deals mostly with his reenactments.  Too bad.  I’d like to see some of his work.

I didn’t tell him – although I’m sure he already knew – that the doorknob on the church has been photographed about a gazillion times now.  (Raise your hand if you’ve done one!) Photographers don’t generally care that they aren’t the “first”.  It’s their own vision and how it’s captured through the lighting and composition and I-don’t-know-what-all that makes a difference.

When I came back inside, I looked through my own photographs and I was amazed that I have not a single photo of that dear old doorknob – not of my own, anyway.  I have only a quick shot that doesn’t even include the striker plate and that was done by Tucker a year or two ago.  It was one of the clues in a scavenger hunt for his grandchildren and friends.

Tucker’s Clue

And, here it is… another day in Beautiful Downtown Oysterville.  What will I see outside my window on this day?

Picture Pluperfect!

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

September 2, 2018

Adj plu-per-fect.  more than perfect; utterly perfect.

“If I had a dollar for every photograph taken of the church…”  I can still see my father shaking his head in amazement at all the attention the little Oysterville Church began to receive in the early 1980s after it had been restored. Make no mistake about it though, he took his share of pictures too.  And why not?  The little building seems the iconic symbol of 19th century rural village life and most especially so with a bright coat of fresh paint.

This past week, the painters hired by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation arrived.  They came early on Monday and I think there were three of them, but they worked more efficiently and faster than I could keep up with.  First, they pressure-washed and painted the fence.  On both sides in one day!  Then they began scraping paint from the church, itself.  They began in the front and on the north side – up-close and personal, board by board.  Then pressure-washing using generator and manlift and carefully aimed water.  Abandoned swallows nests: gone.  Peeling paint: gone.  Mossy, mildewy areas: clean!  Mess: none!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The weather cooperated and the painting began before I’d had my second cup of coffee on Wednesday.   A painter on the roof… no, two of them up there for a while – on ladders and scaffolding and the manlift again – painting the steeple white and then the red trim. A team spray-painted the walls using a hose and a ladder; the brush man was close behind painting the trim around the windows.  So quick.  So deft.  A pleasure to watch.

They worked late on Saturday – until 7:30 or so when the light gave out.  All the equipment was gone by Sunday morning – except for the portable generator which they tucked into the north end of the churchyard.  All was in readiness for the final Music Vespers service yesterday. In less than a week!  Truly a miracle of the first order.  There may be finishing touches to take care of in the coming days but, once again, the little church is more than picture perfect!

The bar is set high in Oysterville!

Monday, June 18th, 2018

“I’m going to get a petition started.  Will you sign it?”  The speaker, a long-time Oysterville friend, approached me yesterday as I was helping gather up the hymnals after Vespers.

Ordinarily, I might have had a question or two, but my response was an immediate and resounding “Yes!”  I knew exactly what he meant.  The Killingsworth Family had just finished their 25th Vespers performance and they had announced that it would be their last.  Their audience made it clear that they aren’t going along with that decision.  Perhaps a petition will help.

I’m pretty sure we’ve been to all 25-years-worth and we both think that yesterday’s was the best ever.  From “Midnight Special” to “Shenandoah” they kept us laughing, teary, and riveted.  At the conclusion of the service they were swarmed.  Old friends, newcomers, youngsters and a lot of us elders had hugs and handshakes for them.  It was their turn to get a little dewy-eyed.

All-in-all, they set the bar high for the rest of the Vesper season.  Whether or not that petition will materialize or, for that matter, do any good at all, it was a Sunday afternoon to remember and a fabulous beginning to this 41st Vesper season.  Thank you Casey, Monte, Josh, Meagan, and sideliner Sean, as well.  The petition is on its way!

(Photos by Tucker Wachsmuth)

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!