Archive for the ‘Relatives’ Category

As much as I hate to admit it…

Monday, October 18th, 2021

Debi and Sydney – Porch Visit

… I really don’t like oysters all that much.  Fried oysters, yes.    My great-grandmother’s baked oysters, yes.  Smoked oysters — especially those!  But on the half-shell or in stew or in a sandwich, I’d just as soon pass.

So, when Debi Snyder, my 4th cousin twice removed, told me that she wasn’t crazy about oysters either, I was pretty sure it’s a genetic thing.   I use as proof of this an “infamous” (in the Espy family) comment made by my redoubtable uncle Willard Espy.  When, in 1980, he was interviewed for a Seattle TV Station and was asked about his feelings concerning oysters he said in his most dramatic tones,  “Actually, I was very nearly conceived, I am sure, in an oyster bed and I certainly was reared in oyster beds.  When I was a boy when we had guests for dinner we would have oyster cocktails, oyster soup; we would have fried oysters and surely we must have had some form of oysters for dessert.  And I can’t stand an oyster!”

It was during a “porch visit” with Debi a few days ago that our Espy oyster disconnect came up.  She and her husband and daughter were here on one of their periodic Peninsula visits and had just been having a bite to eat at Oysterville Sea Farms.  “Oh!  How was it?” I asked.  “The business recently sold and we haven’t been up there as yet.”

Oysterville Sea Farms, 2015 — A Bob Duke Photo

“My husband and daughter loved it!” she said.  “And I loved the view, as always.”  And that’s when she confided that seafood — even oysters — were simply not her thing.   “I feel a little guilty saying so, right here in Oysterville!”

“I think it’s genetic,” I told her.  And we laughed.  That’s another part of being Espy that might be genetic.  We all like to laugh and we all have a great sense of humor.  Well… almost all of us!

Once a teacher…?

Wednesday, September 29th, 2021

Donna’s Grandchildren

I just received a note from my three-two cousin (third cousin, twice removed) — is that right, Ralph? — Donna Gwinn who lives in Garfield, Washington, not far from Pullman.  Donna, a generation or so younger than I and with more energy than all of us cousins of all the generations put together, was here two years ago for “Our Grand Affair” celebrating the 150th birthday of this house.  We have barely recovered from the fun and laughter of her visit!

Donna lives in a historic home, herself — the McCroskey House, a two-story 1898 Victorian that she turned into a Bed and Breakfast some years back.  She works (in ever-changing capacities) for a nearby school district, helps with six young grandchildren who live in the area, and is refurbishing her father’s farmhouse which she recently inherited.  Among other things.

McCroskey House Bed and Breakfast

She suggests in her note that she would like to rent the Oysterville Guest House (again) and bring her grandchildren (presumably the  oldest) to visit.  Can’t do it yet but my thoughts often go to your place! I want to take my grandchildren to the cemetery in Oysterville and show them the resting place of their sixth great grandfather! Is grandma buried there, too? I need to find out more about her and have you share her photos. 

I think Donna is a little screwy on this.  (Our mutual cuzzin Ralph, the family genealogist, will no doubt weigh in and straighten us out.)  I believe that Donna, like  Ralph, descends from R.H. Espy’s brother, William “Kentuck” Espy.  I don’t know where he is buried but it’s not here in Oysterville.  I hope that R.H. (who IS up there), as a many-times great uncle will serve her purpose and she will bring the kids for this Ancestry Trip, anyway.  Maybe when most are a bit older.

Espy Gravesites at the Oysterville Cemetery

It won’t be the first Grandkids Field Trip To Oysterville that includes me.  As I wrote to Donna:  Our cousin Ruth Espy Maloney did a similar Ancestry Trip with her grandkids in June or July — before things closed down again.  They had been home-schooled (or maybe just virtual-schooled) during the last school year and during that time Ruth had been giving them extracurricular lessons on Lewis & Clark, the Oregon Trail, and how R.H. Espy ended up co-founding Oysterville.  She asked me to do a house tour, focusing on family forebears. It was great fun.  I think the two kids were about 3rd and 5th grade age.  Or they could have been 5th and 7th graders — they were certainly well-informed enough!

I’m sure my friends and relatives who live in old family homes are well-familiar with telling their grandchildren about who lived there in “the olden days” and showing the family treasures once used by their ancestors.  Since neither Nyel nor I have grandchildren, I am more than happy to talk to young relatives about their more distant relations!  I wonder if any of it “sticks.”  (Maybe I should develop follow-up worksheets and a quiz!  lol)

Even in the best of regulated families…

Monday, August 30th, 2021

We felt badly when we wrote to Cuzzin Ralph and uninvited him to come to Oysterville (or “Oyster Patch” as he calls it) for a visit.  He was coming out from his home in Virginia to a family reunion of first cousins in Eastern Washington.  The plan was for him to stay with us for a day or two before heading up to SeaTac for his return flight.

But as our Pacific County Covid numbers increased, so did my nervousness, and I wrote to Ralph.  “No worries,” he said.  He would just stay in Garfield for an extra day.  He hadn’t been out our way since Covid began and it gave him extra time with his sister and their nearest and dearest.  They had all been vaccinated, their activities would all be outside, and they were looking forward to the reunion.

But… the best laid plans.  Though the air was smoky from nearby fires, they persevered.  Hostess Donna began to suffer from smoke-related allergies — or so she thought — and finally went to get tested.  The results came in the day Ralph reached home.  Positive.  Damn!  So far, though, Ralph tests negative as do the others who were at the reunion.

Other members of Donna’s family, though — not so lucky.  Her daughter, grandbaby, and daughter-in-law all have it and, yes, except for the baby all were vaccinated.  Donna wrote to me yesterday:  What I am learning? Covid takes time to “percolate”. A positive test only happens when you are three to four days fully into the virus. Rapid tests work well if you are really festered. Rapid tests are hard to find…
It effects people in different ways. I thought I had my annual harvest smoke filled sinus infection I always get this time of year. Emily had aches in muscles, headache and sore throat, no sinus or lung stuff. Today Frances is so run down with it, I went to her house and brought her car with her three kids to Garfield, planning to stay here two nights. She can’t get rest with them around. Ian can’t get more time off. Talk about conundrum for families!   So far, my only grandchild with Covid is the baby! She turned 1 today and we shared Zoom birthday wishes. She coughed and laughed through it but is obviously not at 100% and I can’t help!

My heart is heavy with concern.  There seems nothing to say about the situation that is helpful.  I can hear my mother’s voice:  “Even in the best of regulated families…”  Her catch-all phrase for when the unthinkable happened to thinking people.  To people she admired and loved and knew that “but for the grace of God go I.”


Way to go Uncle Sid!

Friday, July 30th, 2021

Uncle Sid in the 1920s

Melinda Crowley of Cranberry Museum fame sent me a photostat of a hundred-year-old news article which said in part:

The Oregon Daily Journal, Portland, Sunday Morning, July 16, 1920
Pacific Growers now have the additional encouragement of having today as an example, the heaviest producing cranberry bog on record.  It is owned by S.W. Richardson of Oysterville, Washington.

Aunt Bu – C. 1918

Less than an acre in extent, the field hardly impresses the visitor as something remarkable.  Should you, however, go down into it and notice the clusters of berries and blossoms making a solid mat several inches thick on the bed of sand, you begin asking questions.
Though a bog that has just come into bearing, this little patch produced last year 265 barrels of cranberries.  Cranberries last year opened the market at $14 and one of the beauties of cranberries is that, once started, the upkeep is practically nothing. Like alfalfa, it keeps going.
So this world’s champion bog and grower produced nearly $3,000 worth of berries from about six-sevenths of an acre.

S.W. Richardson was Sidney Worth Richardson, my maternal grandmother’s younger brother.  I was named after him and knew him very well — not as a cranberry farmer, but as a pear orchardist.  And not in Oysterville but in Medford where he lived with his wife Beulah.  I’ve always known about his bog here but not that it was a “world’s champion bog.”  I believe the reason there wasn’t much talk about its glories is because my Great-Uncle Sid had a bit of a “past” — a past which affected both sides of my mother’s family…

But that’s another story.  Maybe I’ll tell it tomorrow.

It’s Grandparent Season at the Beach!

Sunday, July 25th, 2021

The Grandkid Generation at the Red House — thanks, Anna Hook Spooner!

Having no grandchildren is a lot like growing up without siblings.  You don’t actually miss what you’ve never experienced, but you’ve done enough vicariously living in the moccasins of others that you know some of the parts — both good and not-so-good. But, mostly, the fun parts and, most especially,  the parts involving grandkids at the beach!

The first batch of grandkids here in Oysterville this summer were two families of Red House cousins.  They live in Sun Valley and in Seattle and, although they see one another occasionally during the year, it’s summertime in Oysterville when they really get “quality time” together.  (Not that they call it that, probably, but they might when they look back on those two weeks many years from now.)  Sad to say, Nyel and I only hooted and hollered as we drove by — all of us on different wave lengths this year.  We did see Grandpa Jim Hook briefly, though — on his way out of town for a few adult catch-up days at home.  Though he claimed “frazzled,” he looked great! Grandpa-ing definitely agrees with him.

Pelicans at Benson Beach – Photo by Opa Tucker Wachsmuth

Next up were Carol and Tucker.  This year they are spending a separate week of time with each of their four grandchildren.  Last week it was 10-year-old Gabi’s turn and oh! the places they went and the things they did!  Bensons-by-the-Beach for their (HUGE) pancake breakfast, Marsh’s Museum (probably more than once), Cannon Beach and Seaside, the new jetty to see the pelicans, Sherwood Forest out by Leadbetter Point to see Opa’s childhood campsite, Camp Tagum.  And so much more!

And today, Cousin Ruth and Cindy arrive with Ruth’s children and grandchildren.  They have been beaching it on the Peninsula since Thursday and are coming over for a look at the house and a family history lesson.  Imagine!  We may not be grandparents (or more like greats or great-greats) but we qualify as a part of Oysterville’s “living history.”  I love it!  (I wonder what the kids think…)

The thing about chickens and watermelons…

Monday, July 5th, 2021

According to my Kuzzin Kris, the best part of watermelons are the black seeds.   “These wimpy seedless watermelons are no fun at all,” she told me not too long ago.  That’s because the entire point of watermelons are the seed-spitting contests!  Which she also believes every kid should learn about before they start losing their teeth.

I wish I’d known Kris a bit better when I was younger.  I grew up, much to the misplaced envy of others, an only child.  That meant watermelon was served on a plate with a fork and with several paper napkins.  Keeping the sticky juice off your hands and face and the tablecloth seemed to be what eating watermelons were all about.  I didn’t see the point.  Not much payoff.  I’d rather cool off with a glass of lemonade, thank you.

Of course, all of our watermelons had seeds in those days.  They were simply an annoyance.  I sure do wish I’d been a little younger and had known Kuzzin Kris and her seed-spittin’ comrades a lot better.  It might have changed my whole attitude about hot weather fun.

Now it seems a bit late.  And besides, we usually don’t have a choice — seedless is it.  Last night we saved all the rinds for this morning’s  chicken treats.  They gave a few desultory pecks and followed me back to the house.  Hoping for cracked corn.  Can’t say I blame  them.  It’s probably a sweet versus savory thing and they definitely prefer the cracked corn and meal worms  over watermelon.

I don’t even think the ones with seeds would help.  Chickens really don’t spit well.

Polishing and Fluffing in Anticipation

Friday, June 4th, 2021

Willard’s  four great-grandsons with their mom, Kathleen – 2004

I’ve been tidying up — polishing silver, directing Cinderella, and even doing a bit of dusting here and there — while Nyel has been planning menus and ordering last minute food items!  Charlie is on his way up from Los Angeles and the Willard Espy cousins are headed our way from points east and north.  The family (or at least a part of it) is gathering!  I am beside myself with excitement.

Willard and Dale, August 1914

We haven’t seen Charlie since Christmas 2019.  And, I suddenly realized, Willard’s grands and greats were here in January 2020, shortly after Charlie left.  They just missed one another that time so it will be the first time that Willard’s grandson Alex and my son Charlie (2nd cousins) have ever met.  Charlie and Alex’s sons — Max, Sam, Jack and Ben — did meet back in 2004 at Oysterville’s sesquicentennial, though it’s doubtful that any of them remember.  However, Charlie will meet Max’s wife, Micah, and Alex’s young daughter, Maddie, for the first time Monday.  Most of them will be staying here until a week from today.  Missing due to a health problem will be Alex’s mother, Mona, Willard’s oldest (by six minutes?) daughter and my beloved first cousin.  Damn!

Helen and Harry Espy on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, 1947

And oh how I wish Willard and my mother were here for this get-together.  They would both be so pleased.  And my grandparents, Harry Albert and Helen Richardson Espy — great-grandgrands to Charlie and Alex and  great-greats to the rest!  Oh my!  If their ears could burn, I’m sure they would do so.  I expect that we’ll be telling and re-telling all sorts of familty stories, some familiar to us all and some not so much.

I can hardly wait!

Here come the holidays!

Tuesday, November 10th, 2020

Nyel (who follows these sorts of things) tells me that roast chicken is going to be the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving meals this year  So says the internet. That won’t be a change from “the usual” for us.  We’ve been a family of two for Thanksgiving for many years now.  But, I am just a tad concerned that whole chickens will become the new shortage — the déjà vu of the run on toilet paper last Spring.

Just in case the girls are catching wind of the trends on the chicken telegraph, I’ve reassured them that we won’t be looking in their direction should we run into a problem.  Too old and too tough — although I didn’t put the news in those terms.  I don’t know that Chef Nyel has a back-up position, but I’m sure he’ll come up with something festive no matter what.  Something to be thankful about — along with so many other blessings this November 2020!

And, from my cousin Lina Biegl in Austria, we have received our first Christmas gift of the year!  It’s a darling Advent Calendar featuring a glittery carousel with Santa and all the sugar plums and surprises anyone could wish for!  And, about the glittery part, it says on the back: “Hadebeglittert in Deutschland – Glittered manually in Germany.”  I love that!

This is our second-ever Advent Calendar.  The first was last year from Lina’s sister, Eva Legerer, who wanted us to share in a tradition that they have enjoyed since childhood.  (And actually, last year’s calendar was sent by Eva but she said it was from the two of them; I think that’s probably true this year, as well, though Lina didn’t mention it.)

We can scarcely wait for Advent to begin.  November 29th is the date!  Last year we opened a little window each morning during our pre-dawn Coffee Hour.  It brightened the start of every wintery day until Christmas Eve and we wondered how we had grown so old without experiencing such a pleasurable tradition before!  Thank you so much, my beloved Austrian Cousins, for introducing this wonderful custom!  And for remembering again!

From Fauerbach to Oysterville!

Sunday, July 5th, 2020

Tucker and Manfred

This morning I woke up to a lovely greeting from Manfred Marx who lives in Fauerbach, Germany.  He was writing in response to my blog of yesterday regarding his cousin Tucker’s story about Camp Tagum.  This is what Manfred said:  A Great Story from Oysterville:  Years ago Tucker, Carol, my wife Anni and I were at this place and Tucker told us this story from his youth… But he knew even more what they did with a skunk.

“Even more.”  Hmmm.  My curiosity was certainly piqued and I called Tucker to ask.  Right now, his internet is down so he hadn’t seen Manfred’s post and when I read it to him, he laughed and told me a couple of other Camp Tagum skunk stories — stories I’ll leave for him to share another time.

Manfred’s Daughter, Ute, at Our Grand Affair – September 2019

Meanwhile, I was so pleased to hear from Manfred.  He is Tucker’s cousin — second cousin once removed, I believe.  Tucker and I are seventh cousins once removed but on the other side of Tucker’s family, so Manfred and I are probably not even “shirttail relatives.”  (However, if we were all part of the Ilwaco Williams family, I think even those distant connections might count to get us to an annual Family Reunion if we had such a thing!)

I’ve met Manfred several times.  He comes to Oysterville every few years and Tucker and Carol go to Fauerbach every few years.  Manfred last came this way in September 2019 with his daughter, Ute.  They were here for Our Grand Affair celebrating the 150th birthday of our  house and it was Ute who opened the ceremonies with her German hunting horn.  It was very special and we felt honored that she participated.

Tucker has told us many wonderful stories about his visits to Fauerbach and we’ve met severral of his relatives (in addition to Manfred and Ute) who have visited here in Oysterville — including a Fauerbach cousin from the other side of Tucker’s family, Mariana, who actually stayed here at our house for a few days!  I would dearly love to visit them all in Fauerbach, though that seems unlikely to happen.  But how lucky we are to have access to the internet!  It makes “travelling” possible on a daily basis.  Almost!


Voilà! Valentine Visitors!

Friday, February 14th, 2020

I do believe they are our closest cousins — not relationship-wise, but residence-wise.*  But only for part of the year which accounts for a big part of why we don’t see them as much as we’d like.

Virg and Cheryl Kocher (she’s the relative — sister of Ralph who does lots of research for me — which makes her a 2nd cousin three times removed… maybe!) are arriving this afternoon!  I think the last time we saw them was just about a year ago.  I remember that Cheryl brought chicken painted rocks, a bookmark, and a bright red dish towel for the kitchen — all of which I still use and/or enjoy!

We used to go to Lacey where they live (mostly) from October through April.  And once we went to Lake Chelan where they live (read: play) the rest of the year.  Now that travelling is no longer an option for Nyel, we don’t see them as often and we are grateful that they are willing to come to us even now and then.

For several years, Virg and Cheryl lived over in Surfside — just a spit and a holler away.  We saw a lot of each other then and we still lament that family care situations resulted in their move five or six years ago.  (They’ll probably tell me it’s been more like ten…)

One of the hardest (and most unexpected) parts of aging is the limitations it can put on travel.  If this were an advice column, I’d say travel while you can, both near and far.  In fact, it’s those nearest and dearest you’ll find you miss the most should you become (God forbid!) housebound.

Hooray for Valentine’s Day 2020!  Once again, we feel blessed!

*P.S.  Come to think of it, my cousin Pat Wollner is closer all the way around!  She lives in Gearhart, OR and is my second cousin twice removed.  I think.  (What say you, Ralph?)