Archive for the ‘Oysterville Church’ Category

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.)

The Swallows Are Back!

Wednesday, April 14th, 2021

Cliff Swallows at the Church – June 1, 2020

Nyel saw them first — day before yesterday, circling around outside our kitchen window.  The swallows are back!  If they’d just slow down a tad, maybe we could tell if they are of the Cliff or Barn variety.  Paul, our ORF President, especially wants to know!

Cliff swallows are the ones who nest in the eaves of the Oysterville Church.  Some people call them “Mud Swallows” because they make their neat round nests of mud rather than of grass and mud like barn swallows’ cup-like structures.  Cliff swallows usually nest in colonies which, in the western United States can number up to 3,700 nests in one spot according the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.

We hope they are not aiming to match that record at the Oysterville Church!  But even a dozen or so nests can produce quite a mess on the walls — not only unsightly but damaging to the paint and expensive to clean up.  Paul has made it a mission to discourage them from nesting on the church — even had some special wooden “inserts” placed along the eaves last winter. Whether or not they will work should be determined shortly.  Bets are running about evenly here in Oysterville!

Barn Swallows (second batch) on Our Front Porch – Aug. 9, 2016

Meanwhile, we are watching to see what “our” barn swallows will do.  Nyel has reluctantly agreed that they can “have” the kitchen garden area, but he’s hoping to discourage them on the front porch.  Lots of luck with that, I say.  And besides… I love to watch them raise their families and chirp from on high at our backyard chickens.  I wonder if the girls have flight-and-swoop envy?  Its always hard to tell with chickens.

Books, covers, and what you can tell…

Wednesday, April 7th, 2021

The “Sequel” is Coming

So… the publisher has sent the book cover for my approval and, thus far, I’m having a love/hate reaction.  I love how it looks — the Oysterville Church, gorgeous as always, and with a rather ominous background that seems ghostly, indeed.  But I hate the implications with the picture situtated, as it is, right below the title: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.

Perhaps I’m being super-sensitive, but the insinuation (at least to me) is that the church, itself, is haunted. It is not. Never has been.  Nor has there ever been an idle rumor to that effect.  But, sure as shooting, if the book wears that cover, the “reports” will begin and before you know it the TV cameras and the ghost-busters will arrive…  Or, that is my fear.

I expressed my concerns to my editor who, I hasten to say, has been great!  She is in consultation with the cover designer to see what can be done.  I thought it might be easier to change the title than to find a different, more suitable photograph but she said that it’s too late.  It’s been “finalized and logged for their retailers” which I guess means the word about the book is being circulated as we speak.

Stay tuned for Book Launch information!

Maybe that old adage “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover” will hold true and people will realize that there are no stories in this one about the church being haunted.  On the other hand, perhaps the article by Corinne A. Kratz of Emory University in the May 1994 Cultural Anthropology journal is right.  In “Telling/Selling A Book By It’s Cover” she wrote:  “… a cover is a marketing device, an aesthetic prduction, and a representation that may relate to the book’s content. What picture can help sell a thousand books?”

Or maybe my concerns are for nothing.  Maybe I should just be content with the thought that the reading public has more sense than we credit them with.  Maybe…

Shoulda… Woulda… Couldn’t

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

A Sign of Summers Past

In a normal world (and, hopefully, in the new normal world, whenever that arrives) this should/would have been the last Sunday of Music Vespers at the Oysterville Church.  Without our usual three o’clock Sunday services, it has seemed a strange summer, indeed.

To us, it has been the most noticeable of all the oddities of this Sheltering Summer.  Not only because we have attended since “the beginning” (some 40 years ago) and not only because we have often participated in the programs, but also because we are right across the street in the once-upon-a-time parsonage.  There is an almost visceral connection between this house and the church.

Vespers July 15, 2013

I’m sure it has always been so.  The church, funded by R.H. Espy was completed in the fall of 1892 and was dedicated on October 9th of that year.  In June 1893, the first full-time pastor arrived.  Rev. Josiah Crouch and his family were ensconsed in this house which Deacon Espy had purchased for the purpose.

For the first time since the Baptist Church had been established in Oysterville in 1871, the little congregation had both a house of worship and a parsonage for their minister.  Heretofore, they had met at Deacon Espy’s home each week and, if an itinerant minister was not available, one of the congregation led the service.  When the Crouch family arrived there was great rejoicing on the part of the Oysterville Baptists.

Susan Waters, PhD – at Vespers, June 23, 2019

Now, of course, the little church is owned by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, it is ecumenical and no longer denominational, and it is used for many purposes.  The only regular services occur on summer Sundays from Father’s Day through Labor Day Sunday.  Except for this year when they couldn’t.

…Until Further Notice…

Saturday, July 18th, 2020

Closed Until Further Notice

Yesterday the “Church Open” sign came down and a “Closed Until Further Notice” sign went up at the Historic Oysterville Church.  Partly, the change was made because of Governor Inslee’s new directive, effective Monday, that gatherings should be limited to ten people and partly because, despite the previous sign on the door requesting that visitors wear masks and maintain social distancing, few if any were doing so.

Neighbors Tucker and Carol – Photo by Peter Janke

In fact, on any given day this summer, the visitors entering and leaving the church far outnumber “Downtown Oysterville’s” total population and, sadly, very few are masked.  Typically, the only masks we see here on an average day are worn by residents.  Too, we were informed a few days ago by a tour director that she had taken a group of ten into the church — all on her own without any official sanction from the Oysterville Restoration Foundation.  Unfortunately, without someone at the door 24/7 to monitor who and how folks enter, there is no way to insure even a modicum of safety for anyone.  Sad but true.

Sign Of The Times

I’m pretty sure the visitors will still come.  Even when the church is open, many people stop only long enough to take a picture and don’t take time to go inside.  And, by far the greatest number of tourists walk the lanes and roads enjoying the vistas and the quiet ambiance of the village.  “Being able to go inside the church is extra icing on the cake” a woman once told me.  For those of us who think icing is the best part, it’s now once more thing to look forward to at the end of this long, difficult siege.


Paranoia or Good Instincts? Hard to tell.

Monday, July 6th, 2020

Local Color

During the three-day weekend, we were mostly in the house, the weather being only so-so.  We did work in the garden for a while on Saturday and, of course, I was outside early and late and in between doing my due diligence with the chickens.  Since we didn’t leave our own property and had no visitors, we spent the entire weekend sans masks.

So did most other people, apparently.  Each time I glanced out our west windows or over the west fence I saw what I have come to think of as the unmasked multitudes.  Mostly, they arrived by cars in groups — presumably family members or close friends.  There were also a number of Oysterville property owners here with friends and relatives and walking hither and thither but, also, sans masks.

Many of the visitors went into the church and, though most paused long enough to at least glance at the sign posted on the door, no masks appeared going in or coming out.  On multiple occasions, the church door was left open after the visitors had come and gone.

White Pelicans Over Oysterville – Photo by Tucker

That’s not an unusual occurrence, but what used to be usual was my knee-jerk response of going over to close the door.  This weekend I left it open as I’ve been doing since the first part of March.  My gut tells me that if some of those unmasked visitors have the virus, their very breathing could contaminate the air.  And, my instinct tells me that the contaminated air lingers…

I was willing to admit to a good dose of paranoia until I heard an epidemiologist’s report on NPR this morning that… guess what?  There is growing evidence that Covid-19 particles can aerosolize and that these minute particles can stay in the air for many hours causing potential aerosolized transmission.  Not only coughing and sneezing can generate those particles; plain old breathing through your nose can, too!

Our Garden in July

Hooray for my instincts!  Hooray for everyone who wears masks, even in spaces that seem benign!   And, for the record, on Friday a whole group of folks were visiting in Oysterville with masks on!  Yay!  I actually went outside and called “thank you” to them and, as it turned out, some of the group were local and knew me.  Such a bright spot in my day.  Too bad it didn’t happen again.  And again and again…

Let’s hear it for the brides!

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2020

Oysterville Church, Aug. 18, 2019 – A Tucker Wachsmuth Photo

It is my pleasure — right now, my painful pleasure — to be the scheduler for weddings at the Oysterville Church.  Summer, of course, is usually our biggest “wedding season” but this year has been a bit different, to say the least.  As of a few days ago, we had two weddings scheduled for June, five for July, and one for August.

Gradually, bride by bride, the weddings are being postponed — one moved to September, one to November, and one to the summer of 2021!  I commend each of these women and their fiancés!  Moving the date of your wedding isn’t simply moving the date of your wedding.  In many cases, it’s changing your entire future!

Over the years, I’ve talked with brides who will be moving to new homes or new jobs after their wedding and I’ve spoken with brides and grooms who will be blending families, and with grooms who are in the service and will be marrying while on leave — wanting a church wedding no matter what.  There are stories and dreams and  sacrifices in every single wedding story that I hear.

Brigid and Bob with Officiant Barbara Bate, 2009

For brides to email me and say, “I guess we have no choice but to move our date” or “Thank you.  We’ll be in touch and please stay well!” tells me that, at least Oysterville-wise, we’ll be getting through all this with grace and with dreams for a better future solidly in place.

Who would ever have thought that it would be the brides and grooms who would have the good sense to look at our situation rationally and with concern and compassion.  I am SO impressed?  Bravo to all of them!

Front Row Seats To A Peak Performance!

Friday, May 15th, 2020

Looking Up Up Up!

The swallows have been back at our house for a month or so but, for the first time in years, they are building their nests in new places.  They did scope out their old haunts —  six or seven of them above the eastside kitchen window and in every upper corner of the once-upon-a-time back porch.  They stuck up their beaks at all of them, apparently eschewing the fact that most swallows return to the same colony generation after generation, with 44 percent of pairs reoccupying the same nest.  Studies show that a good nest may be used for 10-15 years by a series of different pairs.

Granted, last year’s used (and reused ad infinitum) nests have been gone since late last fall — the final sacrifice made to benefit our summer house-painting project.  Over the years, nest disappearance has occurred here periodically and the swallows, seemingly undeterred, have rebuilt in exactly the same spots.  Not this year.  Perhaps it has to do with social distancing.

Precarious Perch

So far, two nests are completed — one just under the west peak of the roof, tucked under the eaves and up so high it’s hard to see; the other impossibly constructed at the bend in a drainpipe coming from the gutter under the eaves on the south side of the house.  In both cases, Mom and Pop Swallow seem a bit smug.  “Try and raze our place this time!” they seem to say as they swoop back and forth.

There was one aborted attempt to rebuild atop the window frame on our porch.  I think it was the drainpipe couple.  I really hope so.  Their current choice is so much better, all the way around.  No mess for us groundlings to deal with and, hopefully, a softer, not a lethal, landing should one of the babies plunge earthward.  (Last year, we found a fledgling on the porch — perhaps a victim of overconfidence about being ready to fly.)

The Church Colony Begins

As for the church — despite efforts by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation to discourage the swallows, they are back in force.  The activity has been unceasing as they have flown back and forth, back and forth, building their nests under the sloping eaves.  They are cliff swallows — cousins to the barn swallows across the street here, at our place.

Their sturdy mud nests (each made with up to 1,000 mud pellets!) have a small, round opening so eggs and babies will be protected against predators.  Watching the parents fly, unerringly and at top speed, in to feed their babies is a sight to behold.

Whether we are inside or out, we have front row seats to the best show in town!  Facing prolonged sheltering isn’t half so bad with such ongoing entertainment (and education) in store!  Let’s hear it for the birds!  And especially the swallows!


Just when I thought I could breathe again…

Friday, August 23rd, 2019

Jay and the Finished Product!

Yesterday, our friend Jay finished painting the east (the front) of our house.  It was the last portion of the house to be done.  He’s refurbished each side over the past few years and saved “the best for last” — or something like that.  It is definitely the side with the most gingerbread, the highest gable peaks and, from my point of view, the scariest ladder approaches.  I mostly couldn’t look.

Consequently, I have no photographs of Jay at work on the house, much to my chagrin.  In fact, the only picture I took of Jay-at-work this time around was one of him painting the post that holds up the bird feeder!  It was a complete serendipity painting-wise — not at all part of the plan.  “I just thought it should look nice for your Grand Affair,” Jay said.  What a guy!

Tucker at the bottom; Jay at the top

But even as he was beginning to pack up his truck yesterday, Tucker was crossing the street to talk with him.  Apparently, the two had talked before and Jay had agreed to use his long extension ladder to climb up to the steeple and have a look at the church bell.  It sometimes gets stuck in the upside-down position and, for several years, has sounded more like a cowbell than a church bell.  Tucker had asked Jay if he’d take a look.

So it was that yesterday afternoon, Jay climbed to the top of his ‘leventy-‘leven foot ladder, exited at the top and knelt on the outer edge of the steeple to take a look.  (My palms are sweating as I write this; I can’t believe I actually took a picture of “Jay at the Top!”)  Unfortunately, he was in his painting-whites and he sort of blends in with the steeple but, he’s documented none-the-less!

His report:  the bell-rope is very frayed and needs replacing and the bell is iron, not bronze, so it has become rusty since 1892 — which may account for the ‘cowbell’ sound.  “Every time you ring it, a shower of rust comes down.  Eventually, it might sound better,” Jay laughed.

Tucker will talk to the Oysterville Restoration Foundation Board of Trustees.  His recommendation:  replace the rope and then ring the bell on every possible occasion to see if we can improve the sound.  Yay!   I know the brides and grooms would be pleased (they often ask for permission) and wouldn’t it be great to toll the bell before every Vespers service in the summer?  I’m all for it!

Music Vespers Today! Three O’clock!

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Ready for Vespers, 2014

There aren’t many places as peaceful in the early morning — even on an early Sunday morning — as our little Oysterville Church.  Today it’s my turn to “do” the Oysterville Moment which is actually a volunteer activity with far more to it than meets the eye — none of it onerous.  Usually.  (Today, though, there was dog poop under one of the pews in the church!  OMG!)

If you have ever been to the Oysterville Music Vespers series, you may know that toward the beginning of the program an Oysterville Restoration Foundation member gets up and welcomes everyone, including the minister, the organist, and the musicians.  But, even if you don’t really remember that part, you may recall that there is a story or a memory told.  Usually it pertains to Oysterville or the historic little church and often it’s about long ago.  It’s the “Oysterville Moment” for that Sunday.

What you may not know is that the person whose turn it is to present the Moment has other responsibilities as well.  That morning, the church is swept and tidied, the chairs are set out in the Sunday school room, the old hymnals are laid out on pews and chairs, and  flower arrangements are placed on the piano and organ.

Tucker’s Oysterville Moment – Summer 2014

About 2:30 — a half hour before Vespers begins — the Oysterville Moment volunteer (the OMV??)returns to stand in the vestibule.  There, he or she greets those who enter, handing out the bulletin for the service and making introductions if the minister, organist, and musicians don’t know one another.

Later, they are responsible for coordinating the ushers for the collection  — although Tucker has been doing that part of things lately.    Finally, after the service is over, it is the OMV’s responsibility to return hymnals to the closet (there’s always a lot of help with that!), make sure windows are closed, and remove the flowers.

For the first sixteen years of Vespers, my mother and father did it all — mostly my mom did the “Moment” and dad did the rest!.  For the next twenty, Nyel and I “inherited” the job and the division of labor was similar..  For the past five years, though, it’s been a responsibility shared by Oysterville residents.  I love it when it’s my turn!  But, truth to tell, I’m glad to just be part of the congregation most Sundays.

Cate and Starla Gable. 2019

Oh — and did I say that today the minister is Anna Haugen of the Chinook Lutheran Church? I’ve not yet met her but feel I know her.  My college roommate was named Anne Haugen and I’m eager to ask Pastor Anna if there is a connection. Our stalwart organist is Sandy Nielson who volunteered to do three extra Sundays when we couldn’t find enough volunteer organists.  And today’s featured musicians are Cate and Starla Gable who tell me that they are going to have a surprise for us — a third “guest musician!”   Wow!  It’s going to be fabulous!