On Merchant Street

Oct 2, 2014 | 0 comments


Oysterville Street Sign

Oysterville Street Sign

When I was a child, we just called it “The Heckes Lane.” That’s because Helen and Glen Heckes and their children, Judy and Peter, lived in the house closest to it. Their house, of course, faced the bay, not the lane; or to people who didn’t know any better, the house faced Territory Road. But everybody knew that the lane was the lane and no one actually lived on it.

Now we call it Merchant Street and the newest house in Oysterville faces north from its southern side. I don’t know if the house has a physical address yet, but if it does it should be Number One Merchant Street. (Knowing how those things work, however, it will probably have a five digit numeral making no sense at all.)

Looking East on Merchant Street

Looking East on Merchant Street

During the building process, the lane got pretty torn up from the construction vehicles and various workers’ trucks going in and out, in and out. Recently, the street has been repaired – graded and graveled and grass seed planted. And now the grass is coming up.   It will once again be “the prettiest lane in Oysterville” – or so Bradley called it not long ago.

I had to think about that designation. I guess I’ve never considered what the lanes look like – only where they go and what the purpose of walking down them might be. There are three east west lanes in Oysterville. From south to north they are Clay Street, Merchant Street, and Division Street.

Clay Street is “our” lane. Or the Holway lane. Either way. Our house is on the north side; Holways’ is on the south. We sit at the bay end during the Oysterville Regatta for the best view of the action. At one time, it was the lane with the swimming hole at the end – dredged out, I think, by Ted Holway so that the kids could really swim in the bay. (Our bay is far too shallow for swimming unless you walk out forever.)

Oysterville's Newest House

Oysterville’s Newest House

When I was a kid, the best sandy beach on the Oysterville bayshore was at the end of the Heckes Lane. And just beyond were “the rocks” – ballast rocks brought up from San Francisco on the oyster schooners and dumped along the shoreline to make room for the returning cargo of oysters. How many hours we spent slipping and sliding on those moss-covered rocks and turning them over to find the tiny creatures underneath!

We called Division Street the “Red House Lane” because that was the house nearest to it. When my New York cousins the Espy girls, were here with their mother Hilda, that was the lane we went down fool around in Hilda’s little sailboat. And sometimes we took our paper and crayons down and pretended to create beautiful pictures in imitation of Hilda with her easel.

Map of Historic Oysterville

Map of Historic Oysterville

Long ago, of course, way back even before my mother’s childhood, there were residences or other buildings on (or near) all the lanes. On Division was the Greenman Cannery and Judge Briscoe’s house. On Merchant Street was the Stevens Hotel. Just off Clay Street were the Slaughter House and the Ball Park.

Like everything in Oysterville, the new house on Merchant Street has been the subject of much commentary. There are pros and cons about its size, its colors, and its design. But, interestingly, I’ve not heard anyone comment on the fact that it is situated facing one of the lanes. I would think that would be the biggee. I, for one, am delighted. I love its location and I love having another full-time neighbor! Let’s hear it for renewed population density in Downtown Oysterville!


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