“Past Perfect” — and indeed it was!

Dec 2, 2023 | 0 comments

Alice Holm’s Year-End Remembrance Card given to each student.

During the last half of his long life, my uncle Willard Espy worked periodically on a book about his own growing-up years in Oysterville.  The tentative title was “Past Perfect” and each time he was out here on vacation from his home in New York, he would work on it a bit more — often collecting reminiscences from family members or neighbors who could fill in the forgotten cracks for him.

Today, I came across the notes from his first teacher, Alice Holm.  Miss Holm taught the primary grades during the years that Oysterville had so many school-aged children that there were actually two schools in the village.  The four youngest of the seven Espy children went to their first three years of school there and Miss Holm, who was about ten years younger than my grandmother, became a lifelong family friend.  This is her memory of Oysterville written long after those teaching years here:

Yes, I remember Oysterville.  I remember it began where you turned the corner of the Nelsons’ white picket fence where the “lay-locks” (says Charley) bent over the gate, and with the other flowers, bubbled and bloomed in profusion.  I remember the bay that spread out on the right in its Sunday evening quiet splendor.  Then, looking up the one wide tree-bordered street, I remember that elusive something that suggested the passage of time — centuries — and the never-failing twinge of melancholy that swept over me in spite of rich contentment.
I remember the old church in its soft hues and mellow tones, the high-backed pews, the worn-out hymnals, the organ, none too cooperative, and the groups that gathered there.  There were visiting ministers and speakers as well as the saddle-back divine who came on horseback to save our souls.

Yes.  Past Perfect!



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