On being the oldest one in the room.

I wonder if I’ll ever get used to being the oldest one in most of the gatherings I attend.  Not only that, I’m often the only one whose family has lived here through six generations, me being within the fourth one!  Increasingly, I find that in discussions about “recent” history — especially about the history here in Oysterville. our memories are not always in sync and “recent” is a completely subjective and relative term.  ‘

Even more difficult is that I get the distinct feeling that when my recollections are different from everyone else’s that I’m being just a tad patronized as in “she’s just a bit confused.”  So, usually, I avoid these discussions and just listen while the group comes to whatever creative conclusion might work for them.  Last night, though, I sort of forgot my resolve and got into it with several of the Friday Nighters about a situation I remembered very well but the others… not so much.   But none of the rest of them were living here when it happened.

Counting me, there were 12 of us here — half of us living in Oysterville, the other half living south or west of the village.  It was mostly the Oysterville folks who got into the discussion though everyone was interested.  It had to do with the old Bard-Heim Dairy Barn (long gone) and Polly Friedlander’s house (still anchoring the north end of the Oysterville National Historic District.)

The statement was made that Polly’s house was built so that the glass breezeway between the two main buildings would give a “see-through” view of the old Bard-Heim Barn which had been built on the property in 1930.

“Yes,” said I (foolishly), “but the barn had blown down in a storm well before the house was built.

Many voices weighed it.  “No.  That’s not true.”  “Polly told me, herself.”  “That’s exactly why the house was built that way.”

“Maybe it was designed with that idea in mind,” I said (being foolisher and foolisher!) “but the barn blew down long before the house was built.”  And I proceeded to tell about Polly’s attempts to keep the barn standing by hiring a Barn Guru of some sort who was supposed to be propping up the building but, as it turned out, he was painting totems to the barn gods on the posts and beams that had not yet rotted out.  “They would protect the barn,” he told Polly.

I, of course, could not come up with exact dates so I backed off — feeling inept in front of so many younger and more certain voices.  Today I searched my files and found a clipping from an old Chinook Observer showing the barn with this caption:  “The landscape of Oysterville was forever changed during a 1990 storm when the 60-year-old Bard Heim Dairy Barn blew down, a victim of years of deferred maintenance and neglect. It was one of the last barns in the area and had come to symbolize the generations of farmers who had tended the uplands while their neighbors had worked the oyster tidelands in the little community by the bay”

And, I found a copy of an email sent to me by Polly on December 12, 2004,  about a decade after the house was completed:  ...the Bardheim Cottage was built in 1994 as I mentioned.  It is on the property dominated by the Bardheim Barn for so many years.  The fenced garden was created in the corral and the decayed fence replicated.  It was one of the two first houses built under the current Design Review Guidelines.

Yep!  I feel better now.  Sometimes when I’m outnumbered like I was last night, I feel like maybe I am slipping a cog or two.  Well, at least I know now that I wasn’t when it came to THAT particular issue!


6 Responses to “On being the oldest one in the room.”

  1. Susan Haynes says:

    Absolutely love this entry re the barn & so glad the evidence underscored your very accurate memory!

  2. David Williams says:

    Our education system has created so many uninformed but contemptuous people who don’t listen to their elders and repeat the errors that could be avoided if they just had the humility to admit that they were in fact dependent upon others for their knowledge and may have gotten it wrong.

  3. Sturges says:

    What is not to like about this place?

    Where else can there be a discussion about a collapsing barn?


  4. sydney says:

    Maybe we should have a “secretary” to keep track of the subject matter each Friday! We do seem to go from the sublime to the ridiculous within the blink of an eye!

  5. sydney says:

    David… really?
    I agree with most of your sentiment, but I’m not sure it’s the “education system” that has screwed things up so badly…

  6. sydney says:

    Thanks for the reinforcement, Susan! I’ll try to remember your words next time my own fail me! Good to hear from you. I miss you!

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