Oysters and Steamers and Chicken, Oh Boy!

Sep 19, 2010 | 4 comments

Dan Driscoll, Oysterville Oysterman

     Yesterday the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) hosted the Lower Columbia Preservation Society (LCPS) at our third annual Oysterville Get-Together.  Usually it’s a brown bag lunch affair and, after we spend an hour or so sharing our accomplishments for the year, we do a ‘walk about’ and then continue visiting over our picnic lunch.  This year was a little bit different and the consensus:  let’s do it again next year!
     We began these gatherings a few years back because we felt that our ‘missions,’ while not exactly the same, were certainly parallel in intent.  We thought that by sharing our experiences we might learn from one another or, at the very least, commiserate with one another.  Both results have occurred.
    The mission of the LCPs is “to preserve, protect and promote the historic architecture in the Lower Columbia region.”  ORF’s purpose is “to maintain, repair and aid in the preservation and restoration of buildings and sites of national historic interest located in the Oysterville National Historic District, and to do all matters of business incidental thereto.”
     The first year or two, as the focus of our gathering, we simply walked and talked our way around the village. Many of our Astoria visitors had not been here before or had not had the benefit of a ‘guided tour.’  Last year we visited the historic Oysterville Cemetery, spending time reading the old gravestones and talking about the historic characters who are at their eternal rest in that lovely spot on Davis Hill.
     This year we decided that oysters and their influence on Oysterville should be the focus.  We began in the church where Tucker Wachsmuth and I talked about the history of the oyster industry here on Shoalwater Bay, the three types of oysters that have been raised here – Natives, Easterns, and Pacifics – and how the rise and fall of the industry over the years has affected the prosperity and decline of the village, itself.
     We then walked north a few blocks to Oysterville Sea Farms where Dan Driscoll talked about the industry today and, in particular, about his own operation here in Oysterville.  Dan’s grandfather was instrumental in bringing Pacifics into Shoalwater Bay on the 1930s.  Interestingly, Tucker’s great-grandfather brought the first Easterns to our bay in 1896 and my great-grandfather founded Oysterville because of the vast supply of Native oysters in this area in 1854.  It pleases me that there is this generational connection to Oysterville and oysters.
     We then adjourned to our house where ORF Board Members served steamer clams (only that morning still in bed on the bay), oysters steamed open on the grill, and barbecued chicken for the non-shellfish eaters.  The LCPS folks brought salads and desserts.  What a feast!  We ate and talked and talked and ate.  What could be better?

4 Comments

  1. David McColm

    I was just talking to a fisherman, using my boat launch ramp into the Cowlitz, about the Oyster industry of Willapa Bay a few days ago. I told him about my 15 years running boats for Coast, and he told me has always “driven out to the old barn building in Oysterville, to get Oysters.” I knew right away, he was talking about Danny’s Oysterville Seafarms! {:-D

    Reply
    • sydney

      The “old barn building” improves year by year. Dan has remained true to his original intent of restoring the building and bit-by-bit it is looking more like the cannery of his grandfather’s Northern Oyster Company of my childhood. Kudos to Dan!

      Reply
  2. Nancy

    Sydney: A tug of envy as I read today’s post. Wish we had been in O’Ville for the day. The memory of my most recent guided tour is fresh in my mind. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. David McColm

    I haven’t been out to see Dan in a few years, but I know he has brought it a LONG way, with long hours of hard labor! {:-D

    Reply

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