Archive for the ‘Friday Night Gatherings’ Category

Remembering Pam Dorrance

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

Last evening at our “Friday Night Gathering” (or “Salon” as Sturges often says) we spent time remembering our friend Pam.  We began by reading our most recent communication from Sturges, sent on June 2nd:

Our family is gathered with Pam at Swedish First Hill. Pam has fought a courageous fight these past three [weeks] but sadly we have lost.  She is fully sedated and unaware of what is happening. Late this afternoon we must take her off life support because there are no further options. It is terribly sad for all of us. She is a special person and the love of my life for over 60 years.
Our love to you both and all our friends from the “salon”, Sturges

Pam Dorrance, 2018

It was only a month or five weeks ago that she had been here with us, enjoying a glass of wine and taking over the hostess duties with a vengeance.  She was so tiny, yet so mighty and, when she insisted, “No, I can do it!” there was no arguing.

“She would never let me pass an appetizer,” Sue said.  “No matter how big the tray, she’d insist on doing it herself.”

“Yes,” I remembered, “with her big smile and that determined look in her eye, daring you to argue!”

“She always took special pains to take care of ME!” Nyel said.  “There she was, with her cane and a bit bent over, moving with difficulty.  I knew I was more mobile, could lift more, and do more —  even from my wheelchair — but if Pam wanted to do it… she did it!  And with a smile.”

I remembered the first time she showed me her fabulous garden and mentioned how much she enjoyed the deer who visited.  “We always put a saltlick out for them in winter,” she said.  “And I love having the rabbits come through, too.”

“She loved every living thing,” Cyndy added.  “She wouldn’t hurt a fly.  Literally!  Or a spider.  They all had her respect and protection.”

Vicki spoke of her generosity.  “I inadvertently got put in charge of the garden at the Lamp Camp in Long Beach when we were staying there a few years back.  I mentioned it to Pam one Friday night and the next thing I knew, she was bringing me all these wonderful starts from her garden!”

The stories continued.  The box of kleenex was passed around.  We spoke of Sturges and of their four daughters. Silently, we willed Oysterville’s spring breezes to carry them our love and sustaining thoughts.  It was one of our most difficult of Friday Nights… yet how fortunate we were to be able to gather together in friendship and remembrance.

Spires, Inspirations and Aspirations

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

The 1892 Spire Handoff, April 30, 2021

The closest thing Oysterville has to a museum is “Tucker’s Arcade” which you probably know is a work in progress.  Probably always will be.  Tucker is a collector, after all, and an eclectic one at that.  There is never an end in sight to interesting possibilities.

Meanwhile… for years our Back Forty has been the repository for many Oysterville-related items — paintings by known and unknown artists (especially of the church), old photographs and letters and documents from or to or concerning old Oysterville residents and, almost anything church-related that needs storage for “a while.”

Perhaps the church connection dates back to the 1892 construction of the church by my great-grandfather — the same year that he purchased this house to be used as a parsonage.  Somehow, the house has been collecting odd bits and pieces ever since.  For years before the church had heat, the little pump organ spent every winter here in the house.  Votive candles left over from weddings and vases from vespers and extra reflectors from the (now) non-existent kerosene lanterns all wait against the day they will be needed.  And that is to say nothing of the many boxes of walking tours that await distribution once the church can be opened to the public again — an ongoing responsibility for whoever lives here, it seems.

Doubly in-spire-ing! September 2012

As Nyel and I begin our Big Cleanout Project, we think about these things.  Some items  will eventually go back to the church but some… we’re not sure.  So it is with the 1892 church spire.  When it was replaced in 1980 during the Church Restoration project, the old one came to our house and, in lieu of an Oysterville museum, here it has stayed.  Waiting.  In 1912, the current spire (made by Ossie Steiner and, actually, just a little bit bigger than the original) came down for re-painting.  Tucker and I had our pictures taken with the new and the old spires and Tucker said something like, “If you ever decide you need to get rid of this original spire…”

So it was that, last night, Nyel and I turned over that historic piece of Oysterville to Tucker.  He says he has the perfect place for it in his Arcade.  “But what we really need in Oysterville is a museum,” he said.  We couldn’t agree more.  Even though we love and adore the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and have great respect for the all-encompassing history archived at the Pacific County Historical Society Museum, it would be nice if Oysterville had a little place of its own.  You know — an inside space to reflect the history of the Historic Oysterville and the National Historic District (which is a museum, of sorts, all on its own.)

Contemplating “Everyday” Secrets

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

Tucker holds two halves of an alder limb – Photo by Steve McCormick

Every once in a while, we get a look at something not quite meant to be seen — not exactly a secret, but certainly not out there for general viewing and discussion.  Something interesting.  Maybe a curiosity or an oddment never before considered as a possibility for contemplation.  But, once viewed,  a conversation starter for sure.

So it was with part of Tucker’s “Show and  Tell” Friday night.  In addition to the Flicker’s nest, he brought a section of that fallen alder’s branch that had split length-wise.  On one half were a number of small nibs extending outwards; on the matching half were the little holes they had been extracted from.  The tiny points were reddish in color, though Tucker said they were white in the  beginning.

“That’s why they call it red alder,” he said.

“Really?” I asked.

A close-up from Tucker

“Maybe,” he laughed.  “I really don’t know.”  He wondered if they were the baby starts of more branches that would have eventually grown out and made themselves known.

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if these halves were from the dead tree that had hosted the Flickers’ construction or if it was from a living part of the tree that blew down.  Where was Jon Fagerland or one of the other arborists we know to give us some answers?  Or a maybe a logger would know…  But we didn’t have anyone handy just then.

Once again, I amazed at what’s out there, unseen.  Things never  even considered in our daily treks through the world.  Or at least not in mine.

And finally, on the 53rd Friday…

Saturday, March 20th, 2021

The Mystery Beaver Ornament

For the past 52 Fridays here at our place in Oysterville, it’s been the same-old-same-old.  No friends over for a weekly gathering. No laughin’ ‘n’ scratchin’.  No drinkin’ ‘n’ carousin’.  No Show-and-Tell by Tucker or fancy appetizers by the Dorrances or off-the-wall observations by Fred.  It’s just been one more day of Sheltering here in the back of beyond.

Until last night — the first Friday under “The New Normal!”  We hope it is a trend-setter.  Ten of our nearest and dearest came bearing fabulous appetizers — deviled eggs with caviar topping! and miniature cream puffs with St. Patrick’s Day stuffing and other savories and sweets beyond tempting.  The bar was open for the first time since March 13, 2000, and there was non-stop enjoyment by all of us.  There wasn’t a moment of silence for dropping that proverbial pin.

Hooray for Friday Nighters!

Tucker’s show-and-tell was a mystery — a very heavy cast iron ornament — probably from the facade of a building in Portland.  A beautifully wrought beaver sat surrounded by a wreath with an arrow resting across its base.  Tucker wasn’t sure where it came from or why he even has it, but he has a plan for its immediate future.  “I think it would look great mounted on the wall above/behind our woodstove,” he said.

I didn’t see the  look on Carol’s face.  But… after 50 years of married bliss she has probably refined the “chastity of expression” skill to perfection.  Especially considering that she has been sharing that half-century with a collector of Tucker’s caliber!  We were all left wondering how he can possibly surpass this in the Friday nights to come!  And yet… we have no doubt that he will do so with his usual aplomb!

All My Favorites!

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

Rose City Mixed Quartet

The “kids” blew in yesterday afternoon — car laden with food and clothes and printed programs and who knows what all.  Not actually our children, you understand.  In fact one or two of them might be closer in age to us than are our actual kids.  But never mind!  We would adopt the Rose City Mixed Quartet anytime!

They are in Oysterville to do Vespers on Sunday.  They are at our house to “help” us get ready for Our Grand Affair and, “by the way, while they’re at it, we could do a House Concert Saturday Night.”  (If you didn’t get the memo and would like to come, call me or drop me an email before one or two today.)

Friday Night: Animal Crackers and Chocolate Hummus

They gave me a sneak peak of this evening’s concert.  OMG!!  Twenty-one numbers and among them all of my favorites including “Little Red Riding Hood,”  “Java Jive,” and “Short People” (yes! even that one becomes a favorite when the RCMQ sings it!)  And… printed programs!!!  How spiffy is that!

Meanwhile… today’s project is the lawn — those 41+ grass-less areas left by rampaging moles and the huge patch of “scorched earth” left after an ambitious thatching project that Nyel was unable to complete a year or two ago.  I have the grass seed. I have the top soil.  But the enterprise has been on hold for the last month for lack of muscle and energy on my part.  RCMQ to the rescue!!!

And, tomorrow?  It’s time to spread ammonium sulfate once again — that “magic” nutrient that puts nitrogen in the lawn and turns it green, green, green!  Or maybe that will happen today, too.  Plus, they are on a window-washing mission.  And who knows what all else.

So, I ask you, who wouldn’t want to adopt this fun and energetic group?  We are the luckiest old folks around!  And we will be the first to say so!


Tucker’s Friday Night Show and Tell

Saturday, April 6th, 2019

“Pinball Wizards” – Photo by Vicki Carter

I was probably the one who began calling it “Show and Tell” – a throwback to my years of teaching primary-aged kids in the days when we actually had the luxury of time in the classroom.  Our Friday Night Gatherings, of course, are all about the luxury of time spent with friends each week – a “guzz’n’gossip time” Gordon used to call it or “a salon” according to Cate or “a soiree” Cyndy once said.   Nyel and I still just call it “Friday Night” but it often ends with Tucker sharing something from his seemingly endless collection.  That’s the part of the evening I now think of as “TST” (which, according the online Freed Dictionary has 79 meanings, none of which is “Tucker’s Show and Tell.”

I don’t remember exactly when Tucker began bringing things to tell us about.  Sometimes it would be something small that he’d pull out of his pocket.  Sometimes it would be a photograph or a document that he carried in a manila folder and sat on top of the piano until TST time came.  Always, he waits until toward the end of our five-to-seven time slot; often, I have to cue him by asking, “Tucker, did you bring something to share?”  He has never said “no” that I remember.

Tucker wih His Pinball Machines – 2009

Tucker is a collector.  Not a collector of any one thing – not like those who collect teacups or garden gnomes or old tools.  Tucker is an eclectic collector – everything from shipwreck salvage to World War One posters to German Foresters’ ephemera or old, hand-painted signs.  Much of what he collects (but not all) relates to his family heritage.  Perhaps the biggest single part of his collection are the pinball machines – over 100 of them at one count– and now mostly in storage while he readies a part of his boat house to serve as an arcade!

Last night he brought his Show and Tell on hand truck.  (I think that was a first!)  He sat it more-or-less out of sight from the gathering and, when the time came (read: when prompted) presented us with a fabulous 1932 pinball called “Five Star Final.”  For a penny, the player could put seven balls in play, including “the gold” ball made of brass.   It got double points wherever it landed!

Five Star Final

In typical Tucker fashion, he gave us a bit of background on the game:  “Five Star Final” was a 1931 Hollywood movie based on a play by Louis Weitzenkorn. It was nominated for Best Picture. The maker, David Gottlieb, grandson, chose the name because he thought it was the last game he would ever make but, as it turned out, the D. Gottlieb & Company continued making pinballs from 1931 to 1977 when Columbia Pictures Industries acquired the company from the Gottlieb family. In 1983, after the Coca Cola Company had acquired Columbia, the pinball assets of D. Gottlieb & Co. were transferred to a new Coca Cola subsidiary, Mylstar Electronics.

Five Star Final is described in the International Pinball Data Base as a “table top/counter game; the machine is approximately 32 inches long, 17 inches wide, and 8 inches high; 5,7, or 10 balls per play, for 1 cent or 5 cents.  Figure Eight playfield layout.”

What couldn’t be described was the fun that the game provided to last evening’s Friday Nighters!