And suddenly… summer begins!

July 17th, 2021

Sydney in Oysterville, Summer 1940

In the “olden days” of my childhood, summer in Oysterville meant visitors.  Lots and lots of visitors.  The relatives came from Portland and Puyallup and California and they usually came for two weeks or more.  Often, they “overlapped” and we were hard-pressed to find sleeping spots for everyone even though there were five bedrooms and all but one had double beds.

As I remember, the “overflow” relatives stayed at The Red House three properties to the north.  I’m no longer sure how many beds and bedrooms there are in that old house, but I think it can comfortably accommodate seventeen or eighteen people — more if there are a lot of little kids.

Many friends from afar visited, too, but they seemed to arrive more according to a “schedule” and so we devoted ourselves specifically to that group or that family.  I think the attitude about the relatives was that the houses belonged as much to them as to us — most, whether of my grandfather’s generation or my mother’s, had grown up here, after all.  There was always room and, as I remember, they immediately helped out by taking on any extra host and hostess duties when non-relatives arrived.

H.a. Espy Family Reunion 1943

I’ve been thinking about those days as we plan for the arrival next week of our bonus daughter extraordinaire, Marta. to be followed in short order by Randal Bays and Family, Cuzzin Ralph from Virginia, Cousin Alex and friend Katie from New York, Kuzzin Kris from Sacramento (who is actually staying at the Red House but we hope we get our share of her!) and then the Rose City Mixed Quartet!!!  And at the very beginning of this grand parade will be Cousin Ruth and Cindy from Mercer Island who are staying somewhere spiffy with a whole raft of children, grandchildren, and I don’t know who all.  I think our house is on the schedule for a “tour and history lesson.”

I can’t wait for it all to begin!  It will be like summers of old but “on steroids” as we are all eager to make up for the Sheltering Year that we hope against hope is over for good and all!  Now… if the sun will come out and the soft breezes blow — just as I remember from those olden days! — it will be a perfect summer, indeed!

 

I keep waiting for Mrs. Crouch to join me…

July 16th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

Every time I give a book talk, I halfway expect to “hear” from Mrs. Crouch.  Not that she appears on demand, mind you.  In fact, as far as I know, she has never appeared at all.  But she does, occasionally, make herself known.  Years ago — in the mid-seventies — when my mom was talking to  friends  Patty and Noel Thomas about her, Mrs. C. knocked some heirloom incense burners off the bookcase here at our house.  I wasn’t among the witnesses, but there were several.  In fact it was before I had moved here and before I had met P&N, but I’ve heard the story many times.

So, though I’m always hopeful she’ll give me a sign that she’s attending one of my book talks, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t be in any way what we might expect. She is anything but predictable.  But I do believe she likes the attention she is getting from the stories I’ve written about her.  On the other hand, I’ve never known her to manifest herself in any place other than right here at the erstwhile parsonage.  One of the few things we know for sure about her is that she was shy.  Tommy Nelson who lived down the street when the Crouches were here said years later: She could sing like a mockingbird.  But when a stranger was around, she had nothing to say.  

Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula

Still, it would be fun if she or one of the other “spirited” characters in my ghost books would make themselves manifest in some way at one of my book talks.  The last one I’m giving — probably until the month of October — will be tomorrow at the Senior Center from 1:00 until 3:00.  After the question and answer period, I’ll be selling books — both the new one,  Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula  and the first one, Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Bring your check books or cash — I can’t take credit cards.

Oh… and in case I haven’t mentioned it before — this new book does include some honest-to-goodness photographs of Mrs. Crouch’s husband, the unrighteous preacher!  Mug shots from his stay in the California State Prison at San Quentin! (But you’ll be surprised at the circumstances of his arrest — it wasn’t for the reason you might expect!)  In my opinion, seeing him “up close and personal” is worth the price of the book!

 

 

How many differences can you find?

July 15th, 2021

Jean Nitzel and Son

Remember those pictures — often in the comics section of the Sunday paper — that seemed at first glance to be identical, but weren’t?  I used to love those.  And for some reason I thought of them, only in a completely different way, when our friend Jean Nitzel wrote that she had arrived safely in Maine.  Day before yesterday she wrote on Facebook:  So happy to get off the train and put my feet on solid ground. At my son’s house in Maine here for a couple of weeks. Lots to see and do. Another check off my bucket list.

She kept us all apprised of her progress across the country with periodic pictures and comments on Facebook.  Change trains in Chicago.  Coming up soon.  A bit nervous about that.  They said they would have someone to help.  Moving around train feels like you are in a pinball machine.  Not very stable.  Is nice to just sit and look out the window  I’m on upper deck and is pretty rocky.  Reading a lot.

So that’s one “picture.”  The other that came to mind was the train trip my aunt Medora’s “chums” from Olympia took to come to the Peninsula for a visit in 1913 — 108 years ago.  Of course, they were young — had just completed their Freshman year in high school.  And train travel was, by comparison, relatively new.  Here is what one of the girls, Elizabeth Ayer, wrote home to her mother about that trip:

Elizabeth wrote this account to her mother on July 10, 1913 – almost 108 years to the day before Jean began her own train journey:

Elizabeth Ayer, Marie Strock, Medora Espy – 1912

Dear Mamma,
…  Mr. Strock bought our tickets.  Also a life insurance apiece.  They were for one day and $25.00.  Well we got aboard baggage, cherries, candy and all.  Made a very slow trip to Tenino.  It seemed to me that we crossed the new railroad about every half hour.  Marie immediately dived into a novel, the characters of which eloped in the second chapter, while I gazed out of the windows.  Some of the workers waved at us.  In Tenino we had to wait about 20 minutes.    In which time Marie read and I asked about 50 questions at the office concerning our trip.  From Tenino to Centralia the trip was quite uneventful.  Very nice depot at Centralia.  Here we deposited our baggage preparatory to a good rest.  I then inquired about the train to South Bend and found that it was at the end of the station.  Then we made a rush for the train, got into the parlor car… so we got off the car to take another.  We were about 3 hr. getting to South Bend.  There were only about 10 babies in our car and they all made as much music as they could.  At South Bend we deposited our baggage while I inquired about the boat to Nahcotta.  The man at the window said it was at the wharf and that we would have to hurry.  Then he rushed out, grabbed our baggage, and told us to follow. 

The next part of Elizabeth’s story, though not about train travel, is an interesting look back at how visitors got to the beach from points north a century ago:

He led the way across the tracks and through grass past our knees.  Soon as we came in sight of the boat, our guide yelled to the captain that he had a couple of passengers for him.  Then the Captain met us and took the baggage.  He wasn’t much more than a boy.  The captain took our suitcases down below and the boat started … As we neared the ocean, the water grew very much rougher and it became impossible to stand alone.  I went down and got my raincoat and then we staggered forward and clung onto the gangplank and the water washed over the front and soaked our legs.  (It was great.)  Finally, Marie wanted to go down and read and I wanted to change my hat so we waited until the boat was tipped to suit our fancy.  Then we made a dash for a ladder, got ahold of it and after half an hour managed to fall downstairs and finely got my suitcase and after much work got out my hat.  I spent most of the 3 hours up in front.  One time when I was leaning over the rail reading a notice concerning corked boots, the captain leaned out of the window and inquired if my pal was sick.  She was leaning on the pilot house.  We ate our lunch about 3 o’clock.
       

Bay View Hotel — White building on left, across railroad tracks from Morehead & Company

Don’t know when the stage goes so will give the most important part of my letter.  I have left in the way of funds the money to get my ticket back and 50 cents beside of which I owe Medora 20 cents for postals and intend to put the 30 cents in on films.  So that will leave me without a cent.  And have just discovered that we will have to stay over night in South Bend which will be 50 cents beside meals so need more money.
          We met Medora half way up the wharf.  She is the same good natured goodfornothing that she was last winter.  We took dinner at the Bayview Hotel, Nahcotta.  Had a three minute steak.  Everybody stared at us….  The hotel is kept by a family of 14 or 16 all of whom dressed up in honor of our presence.  Medora said it was the first time in her life she had seen them dressed up.  Drove to Oysterville behind Coaly…

So… how many differences did you find between now and then?  Or, perhaps it would be easier to name the things that were alike!

Enough with the gray already!

July 14th, 2021

Just Beyond The Garden Gate

I don’t mind gray hair.  I find gray clothing rather soothing.  But I’m not a fan of this interminable gray weather.  I SO wish the inland areas would cool off a bit so our “moist marine layer” would move on and we could get back to the sunny skies of summer.

The flowers in our garden couldn’t agree more.  The girls and I took a walk-about this afternoon to talk to them regarrding this weather pattern we’ve been experiencing.  They were silent for the most part but just as we were about to leave them to wait for summer on their own, out came the  sun!  It was just for a moment or two but I swear to you, those flowers perked right up.  They actually turned in unison toward that bit of brightness and we could all but hear their sighs of contentment.

Garden Girls

Of course, it didn’t last.  In fact, the sunshine was of such short duration I wondered if I had imagined it.  But no!  The girls had stopped their peck-peck-pecking and were standing stock still — or maybe shock still.  It was so out of the ordinary for this July of 2021 that none of us quite knew how to react.

I found myself telling Little Red Hen and Clara (I’m not sure where Slutvana was) that Farmer Nyel says there will be no change in the weather for another two weeks.  Fourteen more days of gray!!  I wonder if there will be any colors left by the end of July — or will they have all been sucked away by the inland heat dome.  Perhaps we can prevail on the Disney people to colorize our world again.  Soon.  Before we forget what summer colors usually look like! Surely we’ve had enough of the gray.

 

Knock! Knock! Adventure calling!

July 13th, 2021

Kevin West at the Oysterville Cemetery 7/11/21

I was just in the midst of gathering my wits in preparation for my book signing at BOLD on Sunday when there was a knock at the door.  It was my neighbor Tucker and with him a personable young man named Kevin West.  “Kevin is looking for some historical information about Oysterville,” Tucker said, “so I told him I knew just the person for him to talk to.”

And then he laughed in that charming way of his and before you know it, the two of them were sitting in my library and we were talking about Oysterville’s founding fathers and about the rowdy days of old and about Mrs. Crouch, our resident ghost.

As it turned out, Kevin is a filmmaker and an adventurer and a follower of whatever takes his fancy.  He asked if he could film me for his You Tube “channel” and, without really understanding what it was all about, I said, “Sure!”  The next day, he gave Tucker the following information so that we could see for ourselves what he does: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3icB1QxGYQY  Copy it into your browser when you have 30 or 40 minutes to “visit” Oysterville and come sit with me in our library for a bit.

 I am passing it on to you “warts and all” as they say.  I’m not sure who the local was that told Kevin about the cemetery — I itch to edit that part and maybe you will too.   I thought the interview with me was fairly okay — I await your “review.”   (I think the episode is titled “This Town Is Haunted.”  If you know me at all, you know how I feel about that, too.)

 

See you Saturday-the-17th in Klipsan Beach!

July 12th, 2021

Yesterday at BOLD

I do believe I was born to party and that’s what my book signing at BOLD felt like yesterday!  So many friends came to hear me talk and to buy books!  Friends from long ago.  Friends from afar.  Friends from the neighborhood.  Friends from FaceBook. Even “friends” who only know me through my books!  So so so fun!

And when I got home I saw a few laments on FaceBook — people who couldn’t get there yesterday or who hadn’t made it to Adelaide’s the week before.  If you were among those who missed the “party” I just want you to know you’ll soon have another opportunity.  I’ll be talking and signing at the Senior Center in Klipsan Beach from 1:00 to 3:00 on Saturday, July 17th.  And, no, you don’t need to be a “senior” to come!  It’s open to all and they have plenty of chairs and I’m told I’ll be provided with a mic… just in case my old “teacher’s voice” isn’t up to the challenge.

H

So mark your calendar and come on over!  It will probably be the last signing I do until the ghostly month of October.  Meanwhile, of course, the book will remain on sale at these local outlets:  the gift shops at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and at the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse; Time Enough Books, Ilwaco; Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum, Ilwaco; The Cranberry Museum, Long Beach; BOLD, Long Beach; and Adelaide’s in Ocean Park.

If you live elsewhere and can’t get to the beach, I urge you to check with your local bookstores. (If you tell them it’s a hot item and that they can order from History Press, they may begin stocking it themselves. They probably should also stock my first ghost book, too — Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula.  Several stories in the first are continued in the second and it helps to know the backstory!) Amazon also carries them and has plenty in stock I am told, although I’ve seen several of their websites that say they are “temporarily out” of Historic Haunts — which apparently is not true.  Go figure!

Meet Young Mr. Rosencrantz!

July 11th, 2021

When Happy Kitty died after a long (was he 19?) and contented life, Charlie knew that eventually he would get another kitten.  He has always had two at a time and Lupe, who is six, might miss her “brother.”

But, adopting a kitty in the Los Angeles area is apparently no easy task.  Charlie began the process shortly after his return home from here in June and, just yesterday, finally brought twelve-to-fourteen-week-old Rosencrantz home from the “adoption agency.”  No sooner had they arrived than several things happened almost simultaneously.

I brought Rosencrantz home. He jumped out of the carrier and ran and hid, said Charlie on Facebook.  And then:  I shouldn’t have let him just jump out of the carrier. I should have picked him up and held him for a moment. He can’t get outside. I just have to wait.  And later:  Just needs to acclimate a little bit.

Meanwhile, Lupe, who has been with Charlie since she was even younger than Rosencrantz, was less than pleased.  When, finally, Charlie reported:  Rosencrantz came out and alternately runs around, then hides again.  Lupe is hissing at me!  I’ve betrayed her!  And still later,  (in a bit of a panic), Lupe is crying!  Real tears!

During our weekly family zoom meeting, Lupe perched on a high bookcase behind Charlie, keeping her eye on everything, us included. Rosencrantz snuck hither and thither but never within range of the zoom camera.  We are eager to hear that they have bonded.  Or at least have arrived at peaceful co-existence.  Two black kitties!  So cute!  So diabolical!  Almost more difficult than chickens!  Good luck, Charlie!

On the Patio at Bold tomorrow 2:00-4:00!

July 10th, 2021

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

If you’ve not yet been into BOLD Art Framing and Espresso at 711 Pacific Ave N in Long Beach, by all means drop by tomorrow at 2 p.m. when I’ll be chatting a bit about my new book, Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula.  After all, it’s not every Art Gallery that hosts a book-talk and book-signing!  But then, it’s not every gallery that calls itself BOLD and ventures into the literary arts as well as the visual arts.  I couldn’t be more pleased to be a little part of it!

For BOLD owners  Greg Holmes and Daneka Ewert, this book-signing venture is a first!  I hope that it is a fun and successful experience for them and that it won’t be the last of such events. And I’m counting on you readers who are old hands at attending book-talks and author-signings to show up to clap and cheer and (of course) to buy a book or two!

From the very first day that they opened their doors, Daneka and Greg have included a display of books by local authors and, though I cannot speak for others, they have done very well by me.  Indeed, I’ve wished more than once that my friend Bob Meadows was still living so I could tell him all about it.  “Old Bob” was an Oysterville handyman who could fix or jerry-rig just about anything — probably would have done well in the arts, himself.  He had a fine sense of humor and one of the things that amused him greatly was seeing “all them arty fellas” setting up their easels around the Oysterville Church on summer afternoons.

I don’t know if Old Bob had ever been in an Art Gallery, but how I would love to have taken him into BOLD so he could see the marvelous creations of some of them arty folks — me included!  I don’t know how he felt about ghosts but he was interested in the history of this area and I think he enjoyed reading.  Maybe my ghost stories would have been just right for him.  And maybe they’ll be just right for you.  Come on over tomorrow afternoon and find out!

Big Doings and A Major Decision

July 9th, 2021

In 1956, the C.L. Smith Family bought the property just north of the Heckes place and separated from the R.H. Espy House by the grassy lane called Division Street.  This weekend, some sixty-five years later, the Smith’s great-grandson is getting married on that property, part of which is still in the family.  His mother and father were also married in Oysterville — in the historic church some 31 or 32 years ago, I think.

Since their arrival in Oysterville, all generations of the Smith family have been “summer people” as I, myself, was until I moved here permanently in the 1970s.  And, it wasn’t until then that I began to know the family — sisters Anne Kepner and Jean Stamper who, with their husbands, would eventually build two places on the property.  Jean and Wayne’s, to the south, incorporated the original cabin; Anne and Jim’s to the north was a new construction, lovingly designed to fit in with “Old Oysterville.”

Smith Cabin, 1984

Like so many Oysterville property owners, the Smith descendants have embraced the village.  No matter that they don’t live here full-time.  No matter that they spend most of their years far from this little corner of the world.  They come back to mark important occasions in their lives — like this weekend’s wedding.  It’s the way of many folks who have been connected to Oysterville over the years.

Kepner and Stamper Homes, 2006

This evening is the big rehearsal dinner on the old Smith Property.  The father of the groom has asked General Nyel if the cannon could be fired to mark the beginnings of the festivities — at 5:30.  The General has arranged for militia members to gather  here at 5:00 and the dinner party will “parade” to the cannon grounds for the big bang.  As Major and Aide de Camp to the General, I have decided that my place this evening is inside our house as hostess with our usual Friday Night guests.  A “Major” decision on my part… so to speak.  I’m pretty sure the General and The Honorary Oysterville Militia members will have things well in hand without my services on this stellar occasion!

No matter how you slice it…

July 8th, 2021

Label on the Carton of Books

The labels on the packages said, “Historic Haunts of the Long Island Beach Peninsula.”  SAY WHAT??  The Long Island Beach Peninsula???  I don’t think so.

The books were a rush order from Arcadia Publishing. We (meaning most every bookseller of these books on the Peninsula) were O-U-T of the books.  I had plenty on order but… there was a three day weekend AND a holiday Monday.  No books would be here until next week.

AAAAUUUUGGHH!  With an upcoming book talk and book-signing at BOLD in Long Beach (Sunday, July 11th, 2:00-4:00), I was distraught.  I emailed my BSG (Book Supplier Guru) Elysia at History Press with yet another order and she made magic happen.  I’m not sure what she did but, somehow, she got the books out of that North Carolina warehouse and onto my front porch in nothing flat!  Order placed July 6th and on my porch July 8th!  Wow!

Cover: Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula

“Are you sure they are your books?” Nyel asked.  OMG!  Quick as a wink, I opened the boxes and, yes, they were my ghost story books!  I did have a moment of panic remembering some of my Uncle Willard’s stories about editors and reporters on the East Coast who insisted that our Peninsula was a part of the Olympic Peninsula (and that we still live side-by-side with “Red” Indians.)  Long anything must, of course, be Long Island, I guess, as in Long Island Beach.

But, here they are — 50 of the first book of ghost stories: Ghost Stories of the Long Beach Peninsula and 100 of Historic Haunts of the Long Beach Peninsula!  Yay!  Tomorrow I’ll double-check with the booksellers in the area and fill in the blank spots as needed!  PLUS, I will be able to supply plenty of books for the book-signing at Bold on Sunday!  So… come on over!  Let’s talk g-h-o-s-t-s!  See you there at two o’clock!