Happy Fourth of July from Oysterville!

Jul 4, 2020 | 2 comments

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.


  1. Manfred Marx

    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.

    Hello dear Ms. Sydney, I regularly read your blog with the stories from Oysterville and admire you for always having something new to tell.

    Best wishes from Fauerbach
    Heidemarie and Manfred

    • sydney

      Dear Manfred and Heidemarie,
      It was such a treat to hear from you this morning! Tucker is having internet problems and, as far as I know, he hasn’t seen my blog of yesterday about Camp Tagum. I hope he “approves”!! It’s not every day that I get a response from Germany about my posts — in fact, yours is a first! So guess what I’ll be writing about today!
      It seems like just a few short weeks ago that we were getting ready for “Our Grand Affair” and you and Ute (with the hunting horn!) were here for our “Friday Night Gathering.” After this difficult time for all of us with the Pandemic, I am already thinking of last September as “The Good Old Days!”
      Nyel and I are both well — keeping a low profile and hoping for a vaccine soon! Please tell Ute and Marianne and “everyone” hello for us!
      Hugs from Oysterville!
      Sydney and Nyel


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