Saddling Up in Oysterville

Jul 10, 2014 | 0 comments

          

My Uncle Ed Espy Horse Seinging on the Columbia, 1924

My Uncle Ed Espy Horse Seinging on the Columbia, 1924

About this time every summer, I begin to miss our horse population. Some of my earliest memories include Countess, my grandfather’s big old work horse who spent her summers in the ‘Little Meadow’ at the southeast end of town. She was the first horse I ever rode and I still think of her as a gentle, sad-eyed giant. Countess lived to be thirty-two. She outlived all of the other horses who had been employed on my grandfather’s dairy farm and outlived the farm, itself, by a good ten years.

After that, in the forties and fifties, there weren’t any work horses that I remember in Oysterville. Machinery had taken over on the small farming operations in the area and the horses that were in town belonged to kids. Every family, or so it seemed to me as the visiting summer kid, had a horse. Garages began to outnumber barns and now, a half century later, Oysterville has lost its rural character almost entirely – at least the horsey, barn-y aspect.

1947 Rodeo Queen, Bitty Redell and Amber-the-Horse

1947 Rodeo Queen, Bitty Redell and Amber-the-Horse

But, there’s still the Long Beach Rodeo the last weekend in July – thank goodness! I remember when it began in 1947. Shorty Wright, our Oysterville Storekeeper, was the moving force behind its beginnings. Fourteen-year-old Barbara “Bitty” Redell (just three years older than I!) of Ocean Park, was crowned Queen and her princesses were Dorothy Taylor of Seaview and Gerri Maki of Nahcotta.

Nyel and I try to go – at least to the Cowboy Breakfast – every year. And for the last several years, I’ve managed to lasso Double J and the Boys for an Oysterville Music Vesper service. They don’t arrive at the church astride their horses, but their outfits and many of their songs are reminiscent of those days when singing cowboys like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were our Saturday afternoon movie idols.

Double J and the Boys in the Oceean Park Parade

Double J and the Boys in the Oceean Park Parade

So, polish up those cowboy boots and dust off your Stetsons! This Sunday – the 13th of July – it will be Double J and the boys at the Oysterville Church! Pastor Tom Elkins of the Ocean Park Methodist Church will get things started at 3:00; Suzanne Knutzen will be playing the old pump organ and Tucker Wachsmuth will present the ‘Oysterville Moment. Y’all come on over!

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