Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Oysterville’

I’m gonna get alot of flack for this…

Wednesday, March 18th, 2020


Do I remember from something I once read that Pacific County has more elderly residents per capita than most other counties in Washington?  I don’t know how many of us old ducks that means in actual numbers, but it’s probably more than eight.  That’s what came to mind when I read today’s paper.

Ocean Beach Hospital Medical Clinic is staffed to operate eight beds, said Blair Oman, human resources manager for the hospital.  Staffing is a key factor in hospital capacity, Oman said.  (Note that there are no quotation marks.  So maybe Blair didn’t exactly say this.  Hard to know.)

Ocean Beach Hospital

The article went on to say:  The hospital owns one ventilator, which is designed for transporting patients to another hospital…  There is enough personal protective equipment in the hospital for staff, Oman said.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love our Ocean Beach Hospital and I love the staff there.  And when it come to a situation like this when their lives are literally on the line, I have nothing but admiration and respect.  OBH has always been our hospital of choice for Nyel  — even though they have refused him on more than one occasion because his needs are too complex.  Fair enough.  We still love everything about our local hospital.

But… why are they so very unprepared for this pandemic that we’ve known for several weeks (at least)  is headed our way?  I would feel MUCH better had the article included what preparations are being made.  Surely there are some.  Is there any kind of state-wide nursing pool they can tap into?  And what supplies are on order?  What will they do with the 9th person needing hospitalization?   Or the 10th or the 100th?  Is there a plan?    A back-up plan?  Inquiring minds want to know.

Test Kit

There was no mention of test kits or numbers of people who might potentially get tested — just that the Ocean Beach Health Medical Clinic will partner with the Pacific County Health Department to ensure our most vulnerable populations receive testing…  That would be me.  And Nyel.  But, presumably only if we become symptomatic.

All-in-all, I was pretty much underwhelmed by the information in the article.  Mostly it underscored what we’ve heard over and over to this point about American communities in general:  poor preparation, uncertain planning, little reassurance.  Who handles public relations at OBH, anyway?  It would seem to me that this is the time to be pro-active.  A little reassurance — at least that they are making every effort to cover the bases — would go a long, long way.


Jack’s, A Turkey, St. Paddy, And Me!

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020

Stained-glass window of St. Patrick from Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Junction City, Ohio

This year, in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we are having turkey.  Yep!  No corned beef and cabbage this time around, as in how can you turn down “free?”

It happened a few weeks ago.  I was doing a big shopping at Jack”s in my effort to cut down what seem like constant forays to the grocery store.  (It was BS-Q – Before Self-Quarantining and Social Distancing; I just DO NOT like to shop.)  As the clerk rang up the total, she asked if I knew about their free turkey program.

I didn’t and, for a moment, wondered if I looked truly needy, but she explained that customers who spent over $100 at one time were eligible for a free, fresh, butterball turkey.  “Would you like one?”  You betcha!  I think it’s the only free thing I’ve ever won.

“We’ll have it for St. Patrick’s day,” Nyel said.  “The luck of the Irish and all that.”  So in the freezer it went, all fourteen-and-a-half pounds!  And out it came day before yesterday to unfreeze in the fridge.  Today Chef Nyel will roast it “to a turn,” as they say and we’ll be suitably thankful to Jack’s Country Store and to St. Patrick, himself.

And, speaking of St. Patrick — I do feel a close affinity for him.  I have a good dollop of Irish in me, although my Irish connections in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh say we’re really English and never mind that we’ve been in Northern Ireland since the 18th century.

Turkey for Dinner!

St. Patrick, too, was actually English — probably born in the 4th century in Roman Britain.  At age sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders, taken as a slave to Gaelic Ireland where he spent six years as a shepherd.,,,   Well, the story goes on and I can’t claim to much in common with any of it beyond the English ancestry part.

Who knew?

Reality Check?

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

Three-thirty in the morning is way too early to be wide awake but… it happens.  As always, I have a book within easy reach but… it doesn’t seem to be the answer.  So, I puttered for a bit in the garage (say what!) loading the recycling into the car for a run to Nahcotta later.  And then I thought I’d read the parts of the paper I’d glossed over last week.

Because of this, in December 2019, teachers did not need to have insurance premiums withheld from their paychecks because there was no January 2020 insurance to pay in December, since it would be paid on Feb. 5  

I thought about that.  Then I read the rest of the paragraph. The district will not withhold the same premiums from teachers in their March paychecks. But that agreement is in no way related to the district’s belief that it was done improperly, just that employees have a choice to keep the money in March as long as the district bears no liability if the insurance payment schedule changes again, Huntley said.

After the third or fourth read-through, I gave up.  It may be early onset something-or-other but I simply cannot wrap my head around those words.  I thought I wanted to keep up with my former colleagues and their concerns, but… maybe not now.

I’d like to blame the time of day.  Maybe it’s not too late for a short snooze before Big Red wakes up the sun.  Then perhaps I’ll try again.  Perhaps.

With thoughts of Suzita…

Friday, March 13th, 2020

Suzita “Sue” Espy, 1922

I’ve been thinking a lot about my aunt, Suzita Espy Pearson.  I never knew her.  She died of pneumonia in 1932, four years before I was born.  She left a husband (who she had nursed through pneumonia during the weeks previous to her own death) and two young sons, Wallace, 8, and Charles, 4  — 12 and 8 years, respectively, older than I.

Throughout her life, Sue had been susceptible to pneumonia.  In retrospect, it seems a foregone conclusion that she would die of it.   In the following exchange between of letters between Mama at home in Oysterville and  Medora, in boarding school in Portland, Sue is eleven, Medora is 16 and Mama, mother of seven, is 39. 

Medora, 1915

Thursday, March 11, 1915
          Sue is quite comfortable now.  She spent a bad night and we were much depressed this morning, but a half hour ago she raised a great clot of blood and has been breathing easier and is clear headed since.
          Dr. says we can look for no change before Sunday.
                                                   In haste,       Mama

Helen Richardson Espy, 1918

Friday afternoon, March 12, 1915
Dearest sweetest little mother,
          Your short note arrived this morning and if it hadn’t been for my good judgement I would have started for home tonight…So I certainly hope that you don’t need me.  I will come at once on receipt of any kind of message.
          I am so sorry for poor little Sue.  I think she is the best patient in the family which makes it easier for you.
          Please take good care of yourself my dearest mother, because you are so precious to me…
                                                   Lots and lots of love, Medora

Little did any of them know that it would be Medora who would live less than a year more.  She died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 18, 1916.  I think of them all during these difficult days we all face now, more than a century later, and I admire their courage, their spirit, and their ever abiding love.


The Feds Strike Again!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2020

There is disturbing news in this month’s issue of “Out of the Archives,” the newsletter from the Washington State Archives which comes from the Office of our Secretary of State:  The Public Buildings Reform Board (PBRB) has proposed selling the National Archives facility in Seattle. The decision was made without public  meetings or soliciting comments from stakeholders in the four Pacific Northwest states which are being impacted by the closure.

The facility contains important federal historical archival records from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington including military records, census information, documentation of Indian treaty rights, tribal reservations, salmon recovery etc.  Researchers who use the archives include the news media, authors, attorneys, historians, genealogists, and many government agencies at all levels.  In the future, these researchers would need to travel about 1,000 miles south to Riverside, California to access Pacific NW federal archival records.

As for active (as opposed to archival) records, they are currently being sent to the Seattle NARA facility which is a short drive from the storage facility for archival records.  In the future, the active records will be shipped over 2,000 miles to a National Archives Records Administration (NARA) records center in Kansas City.

Archives Building, Seattle

Of course, it’s all about money.  According to National Archives, they have been underfunded for years and they do not have money for critical building repairs  ($30 to $60 million.) Meanwhile… the Washington State Secretary’s office is in the planning stages for the new State Library-State Archives building in Olympia.  They have suggested that NARA consider relocating next to their new facility, pointing out that doing business in Olympia would be a considerable savings all the way around.

Considering that we are “the other Washington” and that the decision concerning that proposal will ultimately be made by the Feds, what is your best guess as to the outcome?

Sometimes answers are hard to come by…

Tuesday, March 10th, 2020

Nyel and Noel in the ’90s… but where?

We’ve arrived at that time in our lives when our friends are down-sizing and re-organizing and we have become recipients of some of their memories — mostly in the form of photographs.  With most of them, we find we are hard-pressed to answer all of those who-what-when-where-why questions.  But we love trying!

Yesterday, Pat Thomas sent a picture of Nyel and Noel.  “Wow!  I still had some color in my beard!” was Nyel’s first comment.  Judging by his glasses, we think the photo was taken in the mid-to-late nineties. Although both men look fully engaged in the conversation, Nyel has absolutely no memory of its subject and neither of us can identify where it took place.  Not our house.  Not Patty and Noel’s.  Where is the big question on that one!

Mom, Nanci, Jimella at the Ark in the ’90s

Nanci Main recently sent some photos she ran across of  herself with my mother and Jimella at the Ark.  Mom appears to be on her own so I think it was after Dad died in 1991.  The glasses and cane suggest that it may have been as late as 2005 or 2004 when she was 94 or 95, but my memory says she was  probably younger than that — maybe 90!  What a gal!

Although I’d like to remember more concerning the circumstances of these long-ago pictures, I’m not overly stressed about the parts that are foggy.  I actually remember a lot less about many of my much more recent activities.  Like… was it yesterday or the day before that I last had my  car keys?

The Balancing Act

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Engraving – Edward Jenner giving smllpox vaccination, 1880s

If you are in an “opposites attract” relationship — and I think many of us are —  you understand completely about balance and compromise and other tricks of keeping things on an even keel.  The last few days I’ve run smack dab into couples dealing with the “possibilities” presenting themselves as Covid-19/Coronavirus  continues its insidious grand tour around the world and into the cracks and crannies of our lives.

At one end of the scale of reactions is my own husband/housemate/love of my life: Nyel-of-the-multiple-physical-ailments.  “It’s being way over-hyped by the media,” is his first and (for now) final word on the matter — although I have noticed that he keeps a bottle of Purell in his pocket these days.

At the other end of the scale are the photos on line of stockpilers with full carts of whatever they deem will keep them safe and healthy — even, as in the case of masks, the health care professionals are saying “don’t bother.  It doesn’t help.”  On the side of caution  among our own friends here are a Long Beach couple who have cancelled all travel plans until at least August and who are limiting trips to the grocery store to twice a month at most.  “We sat down and worked out two weeks of menus,” they told me.  We are trying to stock the pantry with staples, too.”

1918 Flu Epidemic

Other friends here in Oysterville have cancelled plans to fly to California.  “We can’t imagine anywhere much sater than right here,” one of them told me.  They have had some serious health problems while traveling in the past, so I can well understand their concern.  But will they be credited with an already-paid-for ticket.  They are looking into it.

Luckily, we have no serious travel plans, though I have wondered about our twice-weekly visits to the Physical Care Facility at Clatsop Care in Astoria.  Nyel is making good progress toward increased mobility and, at this point, even I (the cautious partner) wouldn’t dream of interrupting his forward movement (so to speak.)  I am trusting that the staff there is keeping on top of things and will notify us promptly if they feel the need to quarantine the facility.

As for all those forays to the store and post office and library —  I’m working on fewer — not so much because of the infection quotient but more because they eat up my time to write.  The Corona virus just gives me a greater feeling of urgency about it all.

Spanish Influenza 1918

And then, there are our Friday Night gatherings.  Neither Nyel nor I want to give those up, but… we have been discussing possibilities.  We think we’ll put it up to the group tonight — at least to those who are here.   At the very least it will be interesting to hear their thoughts and see which end of the cautionary scale each is on — for right now anyway.


A Sign of Heightened Awareness

Wednesday, March 4th, 2020

From Days Gone By

For as long as I can remember, there has been an old “Quarantine” sign hanging above the kitchen door in the Red House.  That’s what we’ve called my great-grandfather R.H. Espy’s house ever since my uncle Willard painted it barn red in the mid-1940s.  The house has remained in the family since it was built in 1872 and many of its contents have remained as well.

No one knows when that Quarantine Sign was used or even if it was recycled for more than one go-round.  It could have been used as early as 1903 when a scarlet fever epidemic swept the area.  Or, it could have been used during the 1918 flu epidemic — the “Spanish inflenza” as it was called, believed to have been brought to the United States by WWI soldiers returning home.

“The Red House” by Sedem Akposoee

With all the family correspondence and Oysterville School documents that I’ve perused over the years, I have never seen reference to either of those epidemics.   I have no knowledge concerning any of our family members being affected by either scarlet fever or influenza.  The closest I can come is my mother’s memory of neighbors vaccinating one another against smallpox with an early vaccine, perhaps derived from cowpox.

I don’t know if that Quarantine sign is still in the Red House.  My fondest desire is that we will have no use for it during this current Coronavirus pandemic.  Meanwhile, we continue to wash our hands, sing the Happy Birthday song, and limit our forays out and about.  No hugging, no hand-shaking — but many admonitions to “Stay Well!”


Puzzle Pieces and Aha Moments!

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020

Details of Stevens Addition Plat Map

Several of my friends have a jigsaw puzzle always in progress, usually located on a table where visitors, as well as family members,  can work on them in odd moments.  They delight in those aha moments when, suddenly, the picture clarifies a bit and they find the perfect spot for a puzzling piece.  I’ve always admired that use of free time but find that my own leisure is often taken up with another kind of puzzle.

I have a built-in desire to pour through files and papers almost anywhere, but especially right here in my office.  Many times I come across a little fact or piece of information that I have overlooked for years and I experience my own aha moment!  I can’t explain why it’s an all-of-a-sudden thing.  Perhaps, I’ve finally gleaned enough other pieces so that my own mental picture clarifies enough to make a little more sense of things.

Take the copy of the 1984 letter that I just found (again!) written by Sedoris Daniels, a descendant of two early Oysterville families — the Crellins and the Stevens.  The letter was sent to the late Pacific County historian, Larry Weathers, and he photo-copied it and sent it to me.  It is full of interesting information, but what struck me this time were her remarks about the Stevens Addition in Oysterville.

For years I have wondered why we have a framed copy of the “Stevens Addition”  plat map hanging on our wall in the East Room along with other historic documents and photographs.  Finally, Sedora’s remarks made sense:  Aha!

My mother told that her father, Gilbert Stevens, bought half of Oysterville from I.A. Clark.  I have no idea as to the date.  Grandfather Stevens died in 1889 in Portland.  I believe the Espys bought the Stevens’ property after that date.  My mother, Laura Stevens Jordan, received $1,000 as her share of the sale.  Sedoris then names three others who shared in the proceeds.

Stevens Addition Plat Map

At the bottom of the plat map is written in longhand:  Recorded May 5th 1886 at 10 o’clock P.M. EB Wood, Recorder Pacific County, W.T.  I wonder if Larry looked up the information and wrote to Sedoris that the sale to R.H. Espy occurred before, not after, her Grandfather died.  Or was that a piece of the puzzle that she never did find out about?  Unless another, related piece of information shows itself, that’s a part of the puzzle that may well remain unsolved… at least for Sedoris who died not too many years after she had written that letter to Larry.



Remembering “The North Beach Journal”

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

Page 9, North Beach Journal, October 1985

Every once in awhile, I lament the family’s “saving” gene — that proclivity the generations have had to keep just about everything.    When the three or four generations of “stuff” in this household becomes overwhelming, I dream of a simple life furnished by Ikea and sustained by GrubHub.

This morning, however, I am regretting that genetic quirk the other way around, as in why didn’t I save more of the old North Beach Journal issues.  If you were here in the mid-eighties, perhaps you remember the short-lived tabloid-sized newspaper published in Ocean Park by Peter Campbell (I think.)  I recently ran across two partial issues — pages 9-12 part of the October 1985 issue and pages 9-12 of the June 1986 issue.  They are definitely a walk down memory lane!

Page 10, North Beach Journal, October 1985

I’m not sure why I saved the 1985 pages — perhaps for the article on the “Peninsula Firemen’s Muster” highlighting Jack McDonald and Ossie Steiner and Max Weidner, among others.  Or perhaps it was for the double-page spread by Dale Hill on shipwrecks, featuring stories of the Robert Bruce, “Bad Food Sinks Ship” and the Alice, “Hard-Hearted Alice.”  Both articles were great, starting with those provocative and pun-ish headlines.

The first tells of the cook of the Bruce who burned the ship to the waterline shortly after its 1851 arrival in Shoalwater Bay.  Presumably, crew and captain had not been appreciative enough of his culinary efforts and so he “hotly” retaliated and rowed off in the ship’s dinghy.   Some years later, in 1909, the Alice ran aground near Ocean Park and, though the ship was unharmed, she could not be re-floated because her cargo of dry cement immediately solidified on contact with the salt water washing over her hull.  Somewhere under the beach sands off “The Park,” as my forebears called it, the cement cargo remains even now.

Page 9, North Beach Journal, June 1986

It’s easier for me to determine why I kept the 1986 fragment.  On the upper left corner of Page 9 is a picture with the caption, “After their annual beach clean-up trip, Ocean Park elementary students construct sand sculpture.”  My class began that field trip in 1981, the year Ocean Park re-opened after a two year closure.  It soon became an annual event for the whole school.  I like to think of it as the forerunner to the present-day Garbage Gang, but perhaps I’m erroneously filling in too many blanks.

I do wish I’d kept every issue of the North Beach Journal.  I wonder if there are copies at the Ocean Park Library or at the Heritage Museum…  Just what I need.  Another quest!