Not on your tintype or in a month of Sundays

June 6th, 2023

Dad (William Woodworth Little) and Me (Sydney Medora Little) – 1937

I can’t remember who said what yesterday, but whoever and whatever it was (or they were) prompted my rather adamant thought:  “Not on your tintype!”  Wow!  Where did THAT come from?  It’s an expression my dad used occasionally but I hadn’t thought of it in years — probably not in a month of Sundays.

I Googled “tintype” which resulted in a refresher course in early photography but I quickly back-tracked to old expressions which were once everyday sorts of things and that you don’t hear much any more.

“Billy” – My dad at seven years old – 1916

Not since “Hector was a pup,” actually.  Little did I know that Hector referred back to the Trojan War god who children at the turn of the 20th century studied about in school.  Apparently Hector was, in more modern parlance, “one cool dude” and young boys often named their dogs after him.  Who knew?  Again, that’s an expression my father sometimes used and, since he was born in 1910, the timing is about right.

Another of Dad’s expressions (usually used after a rich and delicious dinner) was, “I’ll see my Aunt Mariah tonight!”  There was no doubt in my mind that he thought he’d have the gollywobbles and it simply never occurred to me to ask who Aunt Mariah was.  As far as I know, she wasn’t anyone related to us.

Mom and Dad (Dale and Bill Little) – 1982-ish

And so last evening passed in a series of reveries about old-fashioned expressions and thoughts of my dad and gentler (or at least more gentlemanly) times.  Not a bad way to spend a few hours,  if truth be told.

I’m probably certifiable…

June 5th, 2023

Our House and Contents in Six Albums? Really?

Some years ago — maybe five or six — I went from room to room in our house photographing EVERYthing — furniture, paintings, knick-knacks, even the contents of some of the drawers and cupboards.  Then I printed out the photos, labeled them with identifications and explanations and placed them into scrapbooks — six of them.

My “labels” included the history of the house and how it had changed in the years since it was built in 1869.  My explanations also included the provenance of the furniture (much of which had been in the house for three generations) as well as what I knew of the paintings and photographs on the walls, the ‘collectibles’ and the tchotchkes and the things of no value to anyone except family members.

Every pink sticky note represents a correction. There are a gazillion of them.

When Charlie and Marta came the next summer, I shared the albums with them — probably proudly which was a bit of a downer as we found about a gazillion mistakes.  It undoubtedly comes as no surprise to anyone but me that I am just now getting around to “correcting” them.  Maybe I’ll have made inroads into the task by the time Marta and Charlie arrive this year — about three weeks from now.

“Why?” I ask myself,  “Who will really care?”  There will be no fourth generation in the house.  There will be no fifth generation grandchildren in my line.  But… somehow, the need to document (for posterity?) seems urgent.  So… wot the hell?  I’m on it!

Signs and Peonies

June 4th, 2023

The First Red Peony

I’m not one for believing in signs and portents…  But maybe, just maybe, there’s a message in our garden’s one red peony.  It’s the only red one.  It’s never bloomed before.  But Nyel was ever hopeful.

He had planted the peonies years ago, babying them along year after year.  Most of the plants didn’t survive and the ones that did all had white buds.  Nyel had hoped for red.  Or at least pink.  Like the ones his grandmother grew back in Idaho.

“They were always in bloom in time to be taken to the cemetery on Decoration Day,” he would tell me.  They were his favorites when he was a kid. And the lilacs, too.

Teresa at the Planter Box said our winters just aren’t cold enough here.  “Put ice cubes around them every morning in winter,” she said, but it seemed too onerous.  Nyel was determined, though, and year by year the plants grew stronger, the stems stood straighter, the buds stayed on the stems long enough to bloom, and Nyel was encouraged — even if they were all white.

Nyel’s Peony

But this year… up came one red peony.  A beauty, too.  Yet, I wanted to scream at it:  “YOU ARE TOO LATE!  NYEL’S NOT HERE ANYMORE!”  But I didn’t.  I chose, instead, to think of this as his “one year anniversary gift” to the garden and me.  Maybe next year there will be two.



And how could I forget “Watership Down”?

June 3rd, 2023

The shadows across the road were long and interspersed with bright spots of sunshine as I drove home along Sandridge Road from Ilwaco this evening.  I was driving the speed limit (I love cruise control) but, even so, I tried to keep a sharp eye out for deer or other forest friends who might decide to cross the road.

“Watch out for the Hrududus!” I called out — to myself, of course, because, worried though I might be, I didn’t see a single deer person along my way.  “I wonder if it’s only rabbits who call motorized vehicles ‘Hrududus,’ and wished Richard Adams was still around to ask.  Or maybe he mentioned something about that in Watership Down,” I thought.  “I wonder if I still have my old copy.”

And then, of course,  I wondered why I had forgotten to include that most wonderful of all animal stories in my review of children’s books yesterday.  I’ve read it at least twice and I’m thinking it’s time to take another look!  Especially since the rabbits of Surfside have diminished in numbers lately but there have been quite a few sightings here in Oysterville — or so I’m told.

Watership Down, Richard Adams’ first novel, tells the story of a group of rabbits as they make their escape from their warren which is being destroyed and seek a place to establish a new home.  (Surfside to Oysterville?  Maybe, although I haven’t heard anything at all about a warren being discovered. much less one being destroyed.)

In fact, my memory of the book is foggy at best — the leader, a buck with the improbable name of Hazel; violence by humans and other animals, including rabbits; both loyalty and betrayal among friends and the incredible grit and gumption of even the smallest…

Please consider this a P.S. to yesterday’s blog!

On the whole — the kids’ books were best!

June 2nd, 2023
City Lights Book Store, San Francisco

City Lights Books, San Francisco

I ran across yet another one of those internet sites listing 30 classics every American should read and scrolled through it to see how many — or IF any — I have read.  Two more than half — 17 of the 30 with another half dozen than I’m not actually sure about.  Did I read On The Road by Jack Kerouac or did I just hear him talk about it along with other “beats” at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach so much that I think I read it? Ditto Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice but earlier in some High School English Lit class?

Out of curiosity, I took a look at the titles of 100 “Classic Children’s Books” and scored 61.  Perhaps a bit better percentage, but I remember many of the ones I did not read — not as a child, not as a mother, and not as a primary grade teacher.  Everyone Poops I don’t remember at all.  But all-in-all, I think I have read and been influenced by more “children’s books” than by any of the adult must-read classics that are so touted.  Perhaps it’s a case of arrested development?

But where was Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey or The Hole Book by Peter Newell (Published in 1908 and 1936 with a rea. hole through covers and pages caused by a gun and was the first anti-gun book I ever remember… but presented in such an interesting and engaging way.  And what about Girl of the Limberlost by naturalist Gene Stratton Porter — on the banned book list back in the 70s as I recall but why??  Or how about The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown — a book to make even the youngest of us think about our priorities!

I was happy to see that The Diary of Anne Frank and To Kill A Mocking Bird by Harper Lee were on both the adults’ and children’s lists.  The latter is one I’ve given to graduating high school seniors on occasion, although I think these days it could be read and appreciated by much younger students.

And for children of all ages (and adults, too) who live on this Peninsula — especially at the north end — read aloud Patricia Beatty’s wonderful historical novels about the Kimball Family who lived in Ocean Park in the 1880s.  Begin with The Nickel Plated Beauty and, if you can, describe a wood cook stove or show them a kerosene lamp at the museum or a picture of the long, woolen  underwear kids were sewn into when winter came — you will all have the best appreciation of our local history you can imagine!  Happy reading!

Would a sorting hat really help?

June 1st, 2023

The clock said 5:25.  The sun was just about to peep over the Willapa Hills to give me my morning kiss and I was… well, I was wishing I had a sorting hat à la Harry Potter.  Not to sort out which of the four Hogwarts Schools I was cut out for, but for a far more practical and grown-up sort of reason.  To sort out my activities for the  day.

It was already promising to be one of those times when there were too many things on my to-do list — all of less than medium desirability to get done and of equal urgency in terms of time.  So, there was nothing for it but to get on with it…

By nine o’clock I was feeling very much accomplished.  1) Two loads of washing done!  2) Lawn sprinklers going full blast and already moved twice.  2) Spent flowers collected from the Espy Cemetery Plot and containers gathered and put away for next Decoration Day.  4) Mail sent; none to collect. 5) Breakfast eaten.  6) Scrapbooks for “fine-tuning” sorted and ready to pursue.”

I was then off to get a tank full of gas — trying to calculate how many trips hither and thither I could make this month at my current (Prius hybrid) rate of 58.8 miles per gallon!!!!  And I was on my way to the optician in Long Beach to have her adjust my glasses which seem to want to slide off my nose.

By then it was ten-tennish and I was tired of it all.  So I did what any sensible Woman-Without-Sorting-Hat would do.  I called my friend Carol and asked if she was up for a coffee at Colleen’s about two o’clock.

I am making no apologies for only getting halfway (or less) through my mental list of “musts” for today.  I made it perfectly clear at the beginning.  I NEED A SORTING HAT!

Or better yet… a magic wand!

Monday’s Cannon Salute from Oysterville!

May 31st, 2023

Oysterville Memorial Day Gathering 2023 – Chris Goeser Photo

This year, for the first time: The Honorary Oysterville Militia (T.H.O.M.) was without the leadership of its founder, our beloved General Nyel Stevens.   Yet we heard the order loud and clear, “Carry on!”

Acting Chaplain Lt. Cate Gable reads the names of the fallen – Chris Goeser Photo

Our traditional Memorial Day Cannon Salute in honor of those members and other loved ones “lost in the line of duty” went with ‘nary a hitch on Monday.  Well maybe “half a hitch.” As we were partway through the steps leading to the “Fire!” command, someone said to me, “What about Cate?”  Yikes!

Pvt. Charley Wachsmuth sets the charge – Chris Goeser Photo

So we all did a mental back-up while our Acting Chaplain, Lt. Cate Gable, read the names of the 41 T.H.O.M. members who have died since the organization’s inception in 2004, Oysterville’s sesquicentennial year.  She read the names in rank order beginning with “General Nyel LeRoy Stevens.”

Adjutant General Sydney Stevens tells the history of cannons in Oysterville at the beginning of Monday’s ceremony. – Chris Goeser Photo

This year, for the the first time:  I, as co-founder and Adjutant General, had taken on the role of leadership (the easy part) and Lt. Chester N. Wachsmuth, Jr. (known to most of us as “Tucker”) prepared the cannon and charge and led the firing squad, Pvt. Charley Wachsmuth and Lt. Charlie Talbott (the hard parts.)

“Fire!” – Chris Goeser Photo

The event was well attended by the loved ones of the fallen and by friends, neighbors and those who just wanted to see and hear the “big boom.”  It all came off (just about) flawlessly — another Oysterville day to remember!

May 30th! Always a CMH4 Holiday to me!

May 30th, 2023


Did you know that I got to choose the day we met, Charlie?  About the middle of May, the doctor said, “Any day now, I’ll expect your call, Mrs. Howell.”  But you seemed content to stay where you were.  Then, toward the end of the month, I was told that you were getting too big for your allotted space and we would have to “induce” your entrance to the world.   I was a bit upset about that until the Dr. said, “What day would you like for this baby’s birthday?”

“Really?  Wow!” I thought.  That seemed to put a whole new spin on things and since May 30th was a holiday (and I thought it always would be)  I said, “How about next Wednesday?”  And so it was that you were born on Wednesday, May 30, 1956!

However, I do believe I went to the Redwood City Hospital about 8:00 o’clock in the morning on Tuesday the 29th.  I don’t know if the doctor had forewarned me or if I just realized that you were going to continue to take your time, even when urged.  I remember asking if I could speak to the doctor sometime that afternoon and was told that he was on the golf course.  I think I was a bit anxious about that…

Daddy Morgan, Son Charlie, Mommy Sydney

But he arrived in time to introduce us at 8:30 in the morning on May 30th and we had a whole glorious holiday to get to know each other!  You would have 15 years of your birthday always being a holiday and then… well sometimes it is and sometimes it isn’t.   Once in a while it’s even part of a three-day weekend!

Whenever it is, Charlie my son, it is always the best day of the year for me!  Many, many happy returns!

When One Morphs Into Two (Days that is.)

May 29th, 2023

My Great-Grandfather’s Marker, Family Patriarch

Yesterday, as I gathered together the various accoutrements (read: cans, rocks, aluminum foil) to get ready for making the cemetery decorations, I realized that the Decoration Day of long ago still exists.  We just do it a day earlier so that the graves at the cemetery look their best all day on Memorial Day.

Alice Stuckey, Flower Arranger Extraordinaire!

Maggie and her sister Alice came over about two to help actually pick the flowers, stuff the cans (most of which came from the Oysterville Schoolhouse Rummage Sale!) and help transport them and jugs of water up to the cemetery.  Thank you whoever donated those shiny coffee cans to the Rummage Sale!  And thank you, Tucker and Carol, for the rocks and pieces of brick to weight down the cans against the wind.  One way another, this is a holiday that still “takes a village.”

I add a bit of water to keep the flowers fresh.

If the wind and or rain hold off, the flowers will still look terrific for this morning’s celebration.  And, to quote the late Father Tom Williams, “It’s the most we can do, it’s the least we can do, it’s all we can do.”  I know the Espy forebears will be appreciative — especially those who have done their own “due diligence” in years past.

With Love and Remembrance and Eternal Love

I wonder who will be  decorating our plot when I join Nyel up there on Davis Hill.  Perhaps a relative.  More likely a neighbor.  Or perhaps our stones will go unnoticed like so many of the others.  I guess I’ll be beyond caring by then… But you never know, do you?

Here we go meeting and greeting in May!

May 27th, 2023

1964 H.A. Espy Family Reunion

I don’t know whether to celebrate our togetherness or to lament the burgeoning burden of bureaucracy here in our little village of Oysterville.  Time was when families got together on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the end of winter, the beginning of sunshine and flowers, and just plain getting out of their long underwear for a while.

That was before my time, of course, but we still use our three-day holiday to get together.  Nowadays, the focus is meetings more than families — at least that has become the Saturday tradition on the Memorial Day weekend here in Oysterville. Those meetings began in 1977 or ’78 — soon after Oysterville was declared a National Historic District in 1976.  It was felt that the nuts and bolts of an organization to oversee the restoration of the church could best be worked out by the town at large.  And so the Memorial Day Saturday meetings of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) were begun and have continued ever since — albeit by zoom during the Pandemic.

 When electricity came to Oysterville in 1936, our old hand pump became yard art.

When the Water Board was formed in the 1990s, it seemed natural that they, too, should report the year’s activities to their membership on Memorial Day Saturday.  Sometimes they went first (at 9:00 a.m.) and sometimes ORF went first.

And today, we added yet another meeting!  Tucker Wachsmuth held the first ever (that I know of) Annual Memorial Day Meeting of the Oysterville Cemetery Association.  A fitting date, I thought.  Like the other two meetings, it was well attended and the project described for the coming months was of great interest — locating boundaries and burials in the Pioneer Section of the Cemetery.

All-in-all, it was a full morning and another year of Oysterville business got underway!

Kerosene Lamp, Oysterville Church