Archive for the ‘Summer in Oysterville’ Category

How many differences can you find?

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Jean Nitzel and Son

Remember those pictures — often in the comics section of the Sunday paper — that seemed at first glance to be identical, but weren’t?  I used to love those.  And for some reason I thought of them, only in a completely different way, when our friend Jean Nitzel wrote that she had arrived safely in Maine.  Day before yesterday she wrote on Facebook:  So happy to get off the train and put my feet on solid ground. At my son’s house in Maine here for a couple of weeks. Lots to see and do. Another check off my bucket list.

She kept us all apprised of her progress across the country with periodic pictures and comments on Facebook.  Change trains in Chicago.  Coming up soon.  A bit nervous about that.  They said they would have someone to help.  Moving around train feels like you are in a pinball machine.  Not very stable.  Is nice to just sit and look out the window  I’m on upper deck and is pretty rocky.  Reading a lot.

So that’s one “picture.”  The other that came to mind was the train trip my aunt Medora’s “chums” from Olympia took to come to the Peninsula for a visit in 1913 — 108 years ago.  Of course, they were young — had just completed their Freshman year in high school.  And train travel was, by comparison, relatively new.  Here is what one of the girls, Elizabeth Ayer, wrote home to her mother about that trip:

Elizabeth wrote this account to her mother on July 10, 1913 – almost 108 years to the day before Jean began her own train journey:

Elizabeth Ayer, Marie Strock, Medora Espy – 1912

Dear Mamma,
…  Mr. Strock bought our tickets.  Also a life insurance apiece.  They were for one day and $25.00.  Well we got aboard baggage, cherries, candy and all.  Made a very slow trip to Tenino.  It seemed to me that we crossed the new railroad about every half hour.  Marie immediately dived into a novel, the characters of which eloped in the second chapter, while I gazed out of the windows.  Some of the workers waved at us.  In Tenino we had to wait about 20 minutes.    In which time Marie read and I asked about 50 questions at the office concerning our trip.  From Tenino to Centralia the trip was quite uneventful.  Very nice depot at Centralia.  Here we deposited our baggage preparatory to a good rest.  I then inquired about the train to South Bend and found that it was at the end of the station.  Then we made a rush for the train, got into the parlor car… so we got off the car to take another.  We were about 3 hr. getting to South Bend.  There were only about 10 babies in our car and they all made as much music as they could.  At South Bend we deposited our baggage while I inquired about the boat to Nahcotta.  The man at the window said it was at the wharf and that we would have to hurry.  Then he rushed out, grabbed our baggage, and told us to follow. 

The next part of Elizabeth’s story, though not about train travel, is an interesting look back at how visitors got to the beach from points north a century ago:

He led the way across the tracks and through grass past our knees.  Soon as we came in sight of the boat, our guide yelled to the captain that he had a couple of passengers for him.  Then the Captain met us and took the baggage.  He wasn’t much more than a boy.  The captain took our suitcases down below and the boat started … As we neared the ocean, the water grew very much rougher and it became impossible to stand alone.  I went down and got my raincoat and then we staggered forward and clung onto the gangplank and the water washed over the front and soaked our legs.  (It was great.)  Finally, Marie wanted to go down and read and I wanted to change my hat so we waited until the boat was tipped to suit our fancy.  Then we made a dash for a ladder, got ahold of it and after half an hour managed to fall downstairs and finely got my suitcase and after much work got out my hat.  I spent most of the 3 hours up in front.  One time when I was leaning over the rail reading a notice concerning corked boots, the captain leaned out of the window and inquired if my pal was sick.  She was leaning on the pilot house.  We ate our lunch about 3 o’clock.

Bay View Hotel — White building on left, across railroad tracks from Morehead & Company

Don’t know when the stage goes so will give the most important part of my letter.  I have left in the way of funds the money to get my ticket back and 50 cents beside of which I owe Medora 20 cents for postals and intend to put the 30 cents in on films.  So that will leave me without a cent.  And have just discovered that we will have to stay over night in South Bend which will be 50 cents beside meals so need more money.
          We met Medora half way up the wharf.  She is the same good natured goodfornothing that she was last winter.  We took dinner at the Bayview Hotel, Nahcotta.  Had a three minute steak.  Everybody stared at us….  The hotel is kept by a family of 14 or 16 all of whom dressed up in honor of our presence.  Medora said it was the first time in her life she had seen them dressed up.  Drove to Oysterville behind Coaly…

So… how many differences did you find between now and then?  Or, perhaps it would be easier to name the things that were alike!

Now THAT’S impressive!

Friday, July 2nd, 2021

There’s been lots of construction in Oysterville the last few years — much of it centered in and around the historic old church.  But nothing has impressed me more that today’s sight at Tucker and Carol’s.  Wow!  At first it looked like a big, blue rainbow right over their house.  But then… I looked again.

What I was seeing was the immense chute arcing from the cement truck in their driveway over the house and into their backyard.  Without the space to drive the truck to the back, it was the only way to do the upgrade to their existing firepit.  That involved incorporating the huge rocks of the original firepit and making a cement surround wide enough to accommodate comfortable seating as you roast your hotdogs marshmallows.  It will be fantastic!  And right in time to get “broken in” before the Regatta Dinner in late August.

Tucker’s Grandparents Van Fleet, Arthur Nelson, n Brothers Dan and Doug at Camp Tagum

I don’t remember when the original firepit went in behind the cabin — probably shortly after Tucker and Carol bought the place from another Wachsmuth family member.  Maybe in the late seventies, eighties?  I’m not sure. What I am fairly certain about is that Wachsmuth firepits harken back to the days at Camp Tagum at Sherwood Forest up by Leadbetter Point.  That’s where Tucker and his two older brothers spent a lot of their summer vacations when they were kids, camping out with their mom and dad and with various family members and friends.

They’ve carried on that tradition with their own kids and friends and now, grandkids, right here in their own back yard in Oysterville.   Long, lazy summer evenings poking sticks in the fire, telling old  stories, singing songs.  Sometimes the younger set sleeps out near the firepit — under the stars or in tents, depending on the weather.  New generations making summer memories.  And surely one of those memories will be “the time the blue rainbow was over Oma’s and Opa’s house.”



The Aftermath

Monday, June 28th, 2021

The hydrangeas sit south of our house
Two of them, side by side.
They seem to be sisters
About the same size
Blooming together
Year after year.

Why then
Is one smiling with health
And one curled up in death
Today after our
105° of Sunday sunshine?
It doesn’t seem fair.


There must be a hundred of ’em!

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

Photo Op — Goulter Cattle 2003

It started five or six weeks ago with the cows.  We were driving north on Sandridge past Shier’s Field, and Nyel, who was riding shotgun, suddenly said, “Look at that!  A hundred cows!”

By the time I could glance over, however, I thought there were more like twenty or thirty.  And then they were behind us.  “Yeah, right,” I said.  “No really!” he insisted (maybe just a little tongue-in-cheek.) “A hundred cows!”

The next time we went by, I was prepared.  I saw a few dozen at the north end — maybe the same few? — and then a whole bunch more toward the south.  “And look over there to the east!  There must be a hundred of them!  Lying down!” Nyel said. “Who do you think they belong to?  Wrights?”

We were headed to Astoria so, being in a cow-ish frame of mind, we checked out Goulter’s herd.  Probably another hundred?  I wondered idly if they’d ever met the cows on Sandridge.  And are they all being fattened up for steaks and roasts?  I remember one year that Blaine Walker and Lance Wright were raising a few Kobi beef but I don’t think that worked out well.

Horses at Martin’s Bog — “at least 100 of ’em!”

And… as if all those cows aren’t enough, have you seen the horses at the old Martin’s Bog just north of Joe John’s Road on Sandridge?  “Must be a hundred horses!  At least!”  We don’t know who they belong to, either.  But, like the cows, it’s a pleasure to see them all.  I don’t really think I’ve seen so many pastures full of cows and horses since I was a kid!  Not here on the Peninsula, anyway.  It feels just like it should be!

Time and Tide and the Oysterville Regatta

Friday, May 14th, 2021

2017 Regatta Invitation

Most of us know that time and tide wait for no man.  Those of us who live a stone’s throw from the banks of Willapa Bay probably know it as well as anyone and so it stands to reason that Tucker would consult the Friday Nighters about which Saturday in August would be best for the Annual Oysterville Regatta.  It is an event that is almost totally dependent upon time and tides.

There are, of course, certain non-negotiable prerequisites.  The regatta needs to be in the afternoon (for the wind), on a Saturday (for optimum participation), preferably in August. In addition, the tide must be high enough to launch the boats from the moorage at the foot of Clay Street.

2015 Regatta Invitation

As it turned out, the decision wasn’t as easy as one would suppose.  It wasn’t a matter of “just consulting the tide tables” because, would you believe… the tide tables were not in agreement with one another!   So, Tucker did a little research — actually went to the Port at Nahcotta and did some measuring and calculating and tonight brought his findings to the group.

When presented with all the facts and possible alternatives, we decided that Saturday, August 21st will be perfect!  High tide is shortly after 2:00 so Tucker says that immediately following the Skipper’s Meeting at high noon, they’ll head for the bay and get their boats in the water asap.  A little earlier than former years and all of us spectators are more than ready.  Out came our cell phones so we could mark the date!

Tucker’s 2016 Regatta Invitation

Anticipation is running high, already.  After all, when that airhorn blasts out the start of the 2021 Oysterville Regatta, it will have been two full years since the last one.  And not only are we overdue — we can’t remember which number this is.  Calling it the umpty-umpth, while close to accurate, feels a bit bogus.  Tonight, though, we spectators agreed that we are more than ready!  We hope the sailors are, as well!  And if not, they have two full months plus seven days to prepare — which the chickens and I imagine means talking to their boats and spiffing up their outfits.  The rest, as we are often told, is a crap shoot.

Some things DO change…

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020

Medora, 1914

A year ago I could have titled this “Some things don’t change…” but this year, of course, that’s not so true.

This morning we had to rush terribly to get our camping outfit on the stage.  Bob fixed the camera.  It had had lots of sand in it.  Papa took us to Nahcotta in the lumber wagon drawn by the colts (Emp and Queenie).  The bumps were awful.  We fooled around Moreheads’ till about one.  Holland Houston came down from the Park with Ruth C. and Marge.  The ride over to the Nemah in the launch Edna was wonderful.  Dote and I sat up in front, rather lied.  Ruth Hag. was our chaperone.  Upon arriving at Prior’s landing was much surprized to find the whole family there except Ethel who is a week old bride.  Priors helped us pitch camp.  Adam was down to dinner.  Had a bonfire.  Slept on the ground in the tent.  Rather uncomfortable.  Gene W. is attractive.

Medora’s Makeshift Garters — Nemah Camping Trip, 1914

Medora (my mother’s eldest sister) was fifteen and, as far as I know, this was her first (and perhaps only) camping trip.  As is always the case when I am dealing with old family documents of one kind and another, I wish my mother were here to elucidate.  (I’m sure she’d “tut-tut” over Medora’s use of “lied,”  however.  So did I.)

I do know some of  Medora’s  references, though.  “Bob” was Papa’s cousin Robert Oliver who lived here in Oysterville for a few years and was a great favorite with the entire family.  “Morehead’s” in Nahcotta was, of course, John Morehead’s store (which Jack’s Country Store proudly claims as a forebear). “Ruth Hag” was Ruth Richardson Hagadorn, my grandmother’s younger sister — about  ten years older than Medora.  The Priors were family friends who lived on the Nemah River.  Their large family included Willie, Marion, Ethel, and Adam.

“Dote” was Portland Academy friend, Dorothy Strowbridge, about whom Medora later wrote: “Mother doesn’t approve of Dote.”  (I wonder if my own mother would have known why.)  Ruth Connell, “Ruth C..” was in the class ahead of Medora at Portland Academy and “Marge” was her sister, perhaps in Medora’s class.  Their family had a summer place in Ocean Park.

Camp Keepsake

“Holland Huston” was from Portland and, though somewhat older than Medora, was perhaps also a schoolmate  at Portland Academy.  His family had a summer place in Ocean Park or Nahcotta and he seemed to be part of the Portland Summer Group that Medora saw occasionally during the summers of 1914 and 1915.  She had a bit of a crush on Holland — but not so much that she didn’t take note of  the mysterious “Gene W.”   And, in that respect, certainly, Pandemic or No Pandemic — some things do not change much at all!












Happy Fourth of July from Oysterville!

Saturday, July 4th, 2020

Fireplace at Camp Tagum

Last week when Tucker sent me a photograph he had taken titled “Fireplace at Camp Tagum,” I knew exactly what it was!  It was what now remains, after almost seventy years, of the fireplace his family had constructed at their annual summer campsite at the north end of the Peninsula.  They called their place “Camp Tagum” (the ‘T’ for Tuck, the ‘a’ for brother Dan, and the ‘g’ for brother Doug and the ‘um’ for I’m not sure what.)  Last night, being Friday and, under plummier times being the time Tucker often brings something to share at our weekly gatherings, he sent pictures of Camp Tagum and a story, as well!  They are the perfect accompaniment for Fourth of July greetings from Oysterville.

By Tucker Wachsmuth

Fireplace Builders: Chester Sr. (Dad) and Friend Arthur Nelson

We camped up at the Point for many years beginning in about 1950.  One year, probably 1964, when I was still a teenager, mice were getting into our food supply.  Cousin Lou brought several packages of mouse traps when we were in Ocean Park.  That night, he set the traps on the ground all around our camp site.  All night long while we sat around telling stories, Lou would jump up when a trap would snap, throw the dead mouse into the woods, and reset it.  We all eventually retired to our tents and warm sleeping bags leaving Lou to carry on his grizzly task.  I remember looking out of the tent window: he was silhouetted against the fire, sitting on a board stretched between two short logs.

Brothers Dan, Doug, and Tuck at Camp Tagum

We had umbrella tents where the sides sloped up from the ground in a big curve.   I was nearly asleep, nestled into the curve, when I felt something, on the outside of the tent, walk over my hand.  I got up on my knees and looked out at Lou still sitting in front of the fire as a skunk walked up behind him.  I didn’t dare call out.  The skunk walked right under his seat and stopped.  It stayed right there and I crossed my fingers in the hope that one of those mouse traps wouldn’t suddenly go off and scare the creature.

Brother Dan and Mom (Martha) at Camp Tagum

That night my eyelids got heavy and my need for sleep soon overcame my curiosity.  I watched the skunk drama for a while but soon flopped back in the sack leaving Lou and the skunk locked in their totem-like positions: the skunk on the bottom and Lou frozen — almost afraid to breathe — on top.

Grandparents VanFleet, Arthur Nelson, Brothers Dan and Doug

The situation was comical, but was a potential disaster.  If you’ve ever smelled a skunk on the highway, it’s maybe a little unpleasant.  If you’ve been sprayed by a skunk, it’s a different experience.  The spray can be so strong that it makes your eyes and the inside of your nose burn.  Believe me, having a skunk spray your camp is a great way to ruin your vacation.

Mom, Dad (Chet), Tuck, and Brother Doug

Early next morning, Lou was still sitting on the bench.  I got up and asked him what had happened.  He just looked straight ahead and said that after what seemed like hours that skunk just slowly ambled off.  I’m not sure that Lou rated his mouse abatement project a total success, but I’ve always been pleased that he was able to get along with a skunk for at least one night.

Perfect Princess Cinderella!

Monday, June 22nd, 2020

Charlie at Theatricum, 2012

I took a little bit of guff from my always PC son on the name we chose for our new Roomba.  In the instruction manual, you are asked to name your robot vacuum cleaner.  It also says that it has the capacity to recognize its name and several other words.  “Let’s call her Cinderella,” Nyel said.  “Perfect,” said I.

I, of course, mentioned her name in yesterday’s blog and had an immediate response from Charlie:  “It’s called Cinderella? Cinderella was imprisoned, starved, and forced to do menial chores by her cruel stepmother. What a terrible thing to commemorate.”

To which I countered:  “Yes, but Prince Charming rescued her and she lived happily ever after! Let’s not overthink it. It’s a fairy tale and our Cinderella is a robot. She’s happy to have such a lovely house to work in and such kind and generous employers!”

Cinderella’s Namesake

Undaunted, Charlie wrote (I’m sure in a rather demeaning tone): “You have her doing housework.”

And I, his elderly mother rejoined:  “Charles Morgan Howell IV, are you suggesting that housework is a menial chore? I don’t remember you protesting on MY behalf for all these years that I’ve been doing such menial labor! lol”

We talked about it last night again during our weekly phone call — a zoom call, actually, in which I was able to show both Charlie and Marta Princess Cinderella at work.  Charlie isn’t backing down.  Neither are the Princess and I.  And especially not Nyel who gave her the name.

Cinderella Cleaning Under The Bed

Which reminds me, after we named her I had occasion to listen to an error message.  I’m pleased to announce that it was a woman’s voice — no doubt the Princess, herself!

P.S.  My house has never been so clean!!  At least not the floors and carpets.  I can’t wait until we can hire the Ugly Step-sisters to do the dusting and laundry…


A Tucker Story comes to Oysterville!

Sunday, September 8th, 2019

German Hunting Horn

It has become Tucker’s habit to bring something to “show and tell” for the Friday Nighters at our house each week.  A year or so ago, he brought a German hunting horn (or was it a post horn) like the one his cousin Ute (and maybe, also, Ute’s father, Manfred) plays.

If I remember rightly, Ute actually plays in a hunting horn (or post horn) band (or orchestra) and when Tucker went to Germany to help celebrate Manfred’s birthday a few years ago, he heard them play.  He described the experience in glowing terms and apologized that he couldn’t really play his horn to give us an idea of how wonderful it sounds when played by an expert.

Yesterday, when Nyel and I were out trimming the rhododendrons in the back yard, the quiet of the village was suddenly broken by the most elegant and melodious sound.  “It’s Ute!” I said.  “She’s playing her horn!”  It was absolutely fabulous!

Ute in Oysterville

I left Nyel to his clipping and went over to see for myself.  I’d had hints.  I knew that Ute and Manfred had arrived in Oysterville on Friday.  And, I also knew that they would be here long enough to attend Our Grand Affair.  Plus, Tucker had suggested that Ute bring her horn to help with the celebration!  And she did!  What a glorious sound!

Although I’ve never heard a German hunting or post horn being played. there wasn’t a doubt in my mind about what I was hearing.  And there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that it would be the perfect “Let The Fun Begin” announcement at two o’clock on the twenty-second.  And maybe the perfect punctuation for various events of the day — like the cannon salute!  As Tucker would say, “Wow!”

I’m losing count.

Thursday, August 29th, 2019

Three More!

Three weeks ago I’d have told you that the swallows on our south porch were gone.  They had raised two batches of babies in the nest precariously perched above the living room window.  First there were three birdie babes, then five, all fledged and gone.

After a week or two, I had scraped and scrubbed and cleaned up  their mess (mostly) and was planning to apply just a bit more elbow grease when…  back came Mr. and Mrs. and not just to say “hello.”  The eggs were laid and  hatched just like that!  It didn’t seem that the requisite ten days had gone by before… three new babes.  Hungry ones!

I so love to watch them.  There always seems to be a dominant one– a little bigger, a little bolder sitting right at the precipice, and no doubt a little more demanding.  Boy baby or girl baby?  It would be interesting to know.  I love it that their bills are outlined so perfectly, giving a good target for mom and dad during the feeding process.

Barn Swallow Egg

Everything I’ve read online says swallows raise one to two broods a season.  Hmmm.  Maybe these aren’t the same parents.  Maybe the original couple has decided to go into the air b&b biz.  If only they’d wear name tags, I’d know a lot more.