Archive for the ‘William Woodworth Little’ Category

My First (and last) April Fool’s Lesson

Monday, April 1st, 2024

Daddy and Me — Easter in Oysterville, 1939

I must have been seven or eight when I played my one and only April Fool’s trick — on my dignified, Bostonian father, of all people!  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a sense of humor  — he did.  But probably not when the joke was on him.  And definitely not regarding the sanctity of his morning coffee.

I, of course, was gormless and when I asked my mom if she would help me substitute salt for the sugar in the bowl on the breakfast room table, I definitely didn’t take any gentle hints from her that this would NOT be a good idea.  I’m sure I stuck stubbornly to the thought that this would be a great joke on Daddy, and I waited eagerly for him to join us before dashing off to work.

He was NOT amused.  I’m sure my mother had another cup AND some sugar ready and waiting, but I only remember how small I felt and how miserable that I had upset my father.  It’s another one of those memories that surfaces every year on this date — and every time I wish I’d told him how sorry I was.  But I don’t think I ever did.

Nor did I ever play such a trick, at least not knowingly, on anyone again.  It was my first “lesson” in empathy — the first time (at least that I remember) that I viscerally thought of how someone else saw things.  I can’t say that the lesson always “stuck.”   Certainly not in its broadest sense.  But I’m quite sure I never played another April Fool’s Day trick on anyone and still feel that it’s a mean, not funny, way to “celebrate” a day.

September 13, 1987 seems so short ago.

Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

September 13, 1987

Thirty-six years ago today

Nyel and I were married

At Croquet.

Gordon was my Bridesmaid,

Roy was Best Man.

Joel Penoyar did the honors

Much to Willard’s chagrin!

Wedding Picture by Kati Downer

It was a surprise to everyone

Except to my son Charlie

My mother had the vapors

Dad had another drink.

I gave Michelle my bouquet

And she took it to class for sharing,

Proceeds?  To Water Music that year.

It was the best wedding ever!

Wedding Pillow from The Franks

At long last! It’s Dahlia Season in Oysterville!

Tuesday, August 29th, 2023

White and Spikey

It’s been a weird year garden-wise here at my place.  Almost all the flowers came late and began to fade away almost as soon as they had time to say “hello.”  At first I thought it was because summer took its time to arrive and then gave us too much wind and very little rain but my friends say it’s been “a great summer” and look at me as if I’ve been on another planet.

Perfect in Pink!

I guess it’s one of those eye-of-the-beholder things and my garden and I have mostly been beholding mole hills and bird nests.  But, now the dahlias have come out in full force and I am in my usual quandary — to pick or not to pick.  I so love seeing them brightening the garden that I hesitate to approach with my snippety-snips.

On the other hand… there’s nothing like bringing a bit of the outside in!  I do so enjoy seeing their stately blossoms and gorgeous colors as I move around the house throughout the day.  They make me think of my father — he always had dahlias, every place we lived, and usually had “a cutting garden” so he could leave the decorative bedding plants alone.  He often spoke of his mother’s dahlia garden in Boston when he was a boy and how she would stop at homes of perfect strangers to ask for bulbs.

Color, Color Everywhere!

I’m not even close to being that cheeky — and, thanks to my friend Patricia, I don’t need to be.  Her Long Beach garden is a dahlia lover’s Paradise and she is generous about sharing.  In fact, I wonder how many of my current plants came from her,  And, come to think of it, some of hers originally came from here many years back.  (My dad and Nana would be proud!)

Joe Knowles Among Our Rhodies?

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

The mind (well, MY mind) never ceases to amaze me!  I can’t remember where I put my car keys or my coffee cup — can’t see them, sometimes, when I’m looking right at them — yet Joe Knowles came to mind as clearly as clearly could be this morning.  Right among our struggling rhododendrons.

Well, perhaps not Joe exactly.  Rather it was the title of a book about him called Naked In The Woods:  Joseph Knowles and the Legacy of Frontier Fakery.  I happened to see it on a bookshelf the other day — probably while I was looking for something else.  I think it was the sight of our still naked rhodies (even though they aren’t in the woods) that triggered my train of thought. Maybe.

Our “Naked” Rhododendrons

It was the Maine Woods that Joe went into back in the summer of 1913, “nearly” naked and taking with him nothing but his trusty Boy Scout friction firebox.  He may have had a knife with him, too.  I don’t remember (ahem.)  It was, of course a big publicity stunt — vaudeville on the nature circuit, you might say.

My dad, who was born in Boston in 1909, grew up on Joe Knowles stories.  So, when he (dad) first came to the Peninsula (when he was courting my mother) he lost no time in going to meet Mr. Knowles who was living out near the Seaview Beach approach by then.  Dad bought two of Knowles’ etchings — “Mid-Watch” and “The Flying Dutchman” — as gifts for his parents.  (They are now back here on the Peninsula in Oysterville– the  etchings, not Dad’s parents.)  My father greatly admired Joe Knowles, the artist, and I think he put the Maine Woods adventure right up there with the showmanship of P.T. Barnum — which he also thought was admirable.

Promises of Things to Come

So… that’s what I thought about this morning as I checked out our “naked” rhododendrons — the ones out around the area where the cannon lives in good weather.  I’m happy to report that there are little sprouts, albeit ever so small, on every single one of those well-trimmed rhodies.  In a few years they may even produce thick foliage and blossoms once again and, perhaps, Joe Knowles could truly lurk among them.  In my mind, anyway.

The Honorable Jean Marie de Montague

Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Jean Maries Near the Coop

My father really knew what he was doing when he chose to plant Jean Maries (as we call them for short) in our garden.  I’m sure he chose them because of their brilliant scarlet color.  And maybe for their name – he was always impressed by a title… even an honorary one.

I think it was just a serendipity that the Jean Maries are usually at the height of their glory on his birthday, May 12th.  Dad would have been 109 on Saturday.  It’s hard to believe that he’s been gone for 27 years.  Especially since our entire garden celebrates his birthday every year!

This year, thanks to a crew of volunteers organized by our friend Jay (when Nyel was in the hospital last year) plus a lot of tender loving care by Beach Time Landscaping, our garden is in better shape than at any time since Dad left us.  The garden was his passion and when he wasn’t working on behalf of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation or acting as the “Mayor of Oysterville” (a title bestowed upon him by neighbor Eddie Freshly), he was outside working with his dahlias and roses and rhododendrons.

Jean Maries in the South Garden

He usually had help with the heaviest chores.  In the 1970s, in the days of push mowers, I think Chris Freshley did the mowing for Dad.  When Nyel came into our lives in the early eighties, he took over the mowing and a lot of the weeding.  Then Hank Batten came along and he and Dad worked side-by-side trimming and fluffing and keeping things looking fabulous.

My father inherited that love-of-gardening gene from his mother, right down to his interest is dahlias and roses.  I don’t think Nana’s garden in Boston included rhododendrons, though.  Those were a love affair Dad began even before he and mom retired here — when he became acquainted with Dr. J. Harold Clarke and his amazing nursery on Sandridge Road.

I love the garden and I love the flowers and I love the memories of my dad “puttering” (as he called it) among the blossoms.  Unhappily, I didn’t get that gene of gardening passion. But if I had, I surely would have developed a gorgeous rose or rhododendron or dahlia and named it The Honorable William Woodworth Little.  And everyone would call it “Bill” for short.  Except me.  I’d call it “The Honorable Dad.”