Scraping Up History

Jun 21, 2014 | 5 comments

Paint Layers at the Oysterville P.O.

Paint Layers at the Oysterville P.O.

We commonly say that we are “digging” into the past. That usually involves research of some kind – searching various archives for deeds or birth certificates or other primary documents that give a framework of time and people.  But, for the archaeologists among us, actual digging is, indeed, the most direct route to the past.

Oysterville storekeeper Greg Rogers, however, is scraping rather than digging to find answers. His question: What was the original color of the Oysterville Store and Post Office? He has photographs going back to the very earliest days of the building (1918) but, of course, they are in black and white. And, so far anyway, there is no way to determine actual color from a black and white photograph.

Oysterville Store c. 1940

Oysterville Store c. 1940

Some of us old-timers remember clear back into the 1930s when there was a small gas station in front of the post-office. It was a sort of adjunct to Bert Andrews’ Garage down the street a way. I remember the whole store-post-office-gas-station being a sort of cream color with reddish-brown trim. But I’ve never claimed to have a very good visual memory.

Those are not, however, the colors that Greg is finding as he scrapes around the doorframe at the post office. He has found white, green, and a red he describes and “Coca-Cola red, like your car, Sydney.” Both the white and red seem to have been used on the trim and both red and white show up on the siding.

Oysterville Store c. 1930

Oysterville Store c. 1930

But then there were stripes… They can be seen as darker, horizontal areas in the old photographs on the lower portion of the building. And, how old are the parts of the building that have been scraped so far? Are those marks on the trim piece indicators that it is pressure-treated wood? If that is the case, it might be fairly recent in the great scheme of things – perhaps a repair?

But, on doing a bit of my own research, I find that the slit method of pressure-treating wood has been around since 1911. Knowing what I do of Bert Andrews, he could well have been on the cutting-edge of construction materials in 1918. So when was that trim painted red, anyway? Maybe Bud remembers.

All of this scraping and pondering is the precursor to giving the building a new coat of retro-colors. I’m looking forward to Greg’s final conclusions and to seeing the building as it once might have been. I wonder if it will stir up some long forgotten memories.

5 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Is it just perspective or did the store get a little bigger between 1930 and 1940? That could make a difference as to where to scrape. Our house was originally the same shade of red as the Oysterville Store is now. When we bought it, it was yellow, and the older neighbors made sure to tell us that I was originally red. You can still see the color on the shiplap inside our back porch. For a while we toyed with the notion of naming our house “The Red House” as a kind of joke. I think a lot of our older neighbors are gone now and we’d be the only ones laughing. Personally, I’m all in favor of your memory, Sydney. Cream would be nice and that was a very common color in that early era.

    Reply
    • sydney

      I’m not sure if the building got larger or just changed shape. In the “olden days” in the grocery store/post office before this one, my mom said the post office was behind the store — that is, you went into the store and it P.O. window was inthe back wall of the store; that’s where the postman was. So maybe the first store/p.o. that Bert and Minnie had was configured that way and they added to the west of the store later so the p.o. could have a separate entrance. I really don’t know. I agree that I hope Greg goes with cream color but I don’t think that’s the dirextion he’s leaning right now…

      Reply
  2. Stephanie Frieze

    IT was red, not me!

    Reply
  3. Greg

    Thanks Sydney! I’ll post this on my Oysterville Store FB page. What I intend to do is to use the stop sign red that was on the bottom five boards. Use a white for the two boards above those, and then do the dark blue for the next two boards above the white. Everything above the blue will be white which will absorb those bay windows better. The gutters at the top were probably blue as well. This was a “standard” color scheme for Standard Oil Gas stations according to Bradley Huson and Dan Switzler….and every image that comes up on the Google machine when you type in “standard oil gas station colors historical”. Good thing that John Downer chose a similar red for the window signage. The blue same that shows up is a little darker than the new mailbox. All in all I’m liking how this will tie together.

    Reply
    • sydney

      Yes, I remember the red, white and blue of the Standard Stations. My father would only get gas at Standard Stations when I was a little girl. I remember the one we went to in Alameda where we lived from 1941-1947 wa”Standard 100.” That’s how they always answered the phone. “Standard 100!”
      I don’t know why we phoned them so much though. lol But whenever we went on a trip, we would only stop at Standard Stations. Besides, they had the cleanest restrooms.
      I just don’t remember those colors at the Oysterville Store. But my visual memory is notoriously faulty!
      Whatever you do will look great!

      Reply

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