Posts Tagged ‘Autumn in Oysterville’

Is Wed. Dec. 6th marked on your calendar ?

Thursday, November 30th, 2023

Inside an Oyster Station

Will we see you next Wednesday, December 6th at the Oysterville Schoolhouse?  I surely hope so.  It’s going to be all about oysters and clams — history, stories, maybe even a recipe or two for your holiday enjoyment!

If you’ve been attending our first few History Forums, you know that they are informal and definitely a work-in-progress.  Our goal is to get as much participation at possible — especially as we get a little farther along in our chronological look at Pacific County.  So, I was so pleased to learn that Dobby Wiegardt and Tucker Wachsmuth are going to have a discussion between themselves and act as “Discussion Leaders” with the rest of us.  No more “Speakers and Audience”… we hope.

Tonging Oysters

I’m eager to see how it goes.  We are hoping that some of the many experienced and knowledgeable oyster workers and aficionados will be among us to weigh in.  I have a couple of interesting letters from from the days of the native oysters that I hope to have time to share and perhaps others will bring some family memories along with them.

I am always impressed as how much collective information we have once we have an opportunity to put it together.  I hope Wednesday will be one of those times!

If you write, they will answer — with luck!

Tuesday, November 28th, 2023

John Douglas Grave Site, Oysterville Cemetery

During the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve had many wonderful responses from people who have visited Oysterville, who sometimes have questions about Oysterville, or even from a few who have ancestors who once lived here.  I love those communications and if I can help with a question I am inordinately pleased.  I’ve even been lucky enough to have visitors come from as far away as Australia whose forebears not only were neighbors of my grandparents but who I knew growing up here.  Another one of those “small world” pleasures that have occurred because of my blog..

But recently, I got the most wonderful feedback of all  — from not one, but from TWO  direct descendants of John Douglas who, apparently have never before heard of one another!  You might remember that John Douglas was the first settler on the Shoalwater Bay (arriving in 1840 or 1841) and is the one whose blind daughter, Mary, was cured by Dr. James R. Johnson, the first doctor in the area.  Dr. Johnson,, incidentally, was the great-grandfather of Oysterville’s late, life-long resident, Bud Goulter.

The first communication I received was from Ronald Mayer back in July 2022:  I am the great, great grandson of John Douglas. Frank and Mary Garretson are my great-grand parents and their youngest son Frederick was my grandfather. My mother Thelma Garretson Mayer knew most of the family and in her later years she wrote down much of the family history. I did some additional research with some success but drifted away from the project and never got back to it. I would very much like to learn more. I will read your other articles but I would really like to talk to you more directly. I have no issue with the misinformation you have cited. Much of it I already knew and you cited a fact or two in this article I did not know. Sincerely
Ron Mayer

Tommy Nelson’s Cannery

The following August, Ron wrote again:  Thank you for your quick reply to my note,,, I am hoping you can tell me more about John Douglass’s granddhildren. Irene was one of them and I can remember her well. My grandfather, Fred Garretson, her brother, lived in Seaside in his later years and we visited Aunt Irene and Uncle Tommy several times when I was just a little kid.. She had seven siblings: Edgar, Lucy, Helen, Alfred, Agnes, William, Francis, and Frederick. Irene was the sixth surviving grandchild. The first, a girl, died in infancy. At least maybe you can tell me about Irene.
   Your articles about John Douglas are spot on. The family never claimed anything about the founding of Oysterville. However, John Douglass was said to  be the first white man to settle north of the Columbia River in or shortly after 1841. Another early settler arrived there after 1841, his name escapes me now. He claimed no other settler was there at the time but Douglass was not continuously present because he went out on whaling ships until he broke his leg.   Ronald 

To say I was thrilled is the understatement of my research “career.”  And, to top all of this off, in the last few weeks I received this note from a second John Douglas descendant, Tom DeGandi: I’m the great-great-great grandson of John Douglas and have a portrait of John and a picture of Mary.  I would like to talk to Ron Mayer if possible.  Sincerely, Tom DeGandi

Wow!  I have put the two in touch with one another and can scarcely wait for the next “installment!”  Stay tuned!


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It’s the Snap and Crackle Season already!

Monday, November 27th, 2023

The Library Fireplace

There are bad things and good things about an aging mind.  The bad part is you can’t remember squat.  The good thing is you can’t remember squat, either.  It all becomes more noticeable on these long dark evenings when I snuggle up by the fire with a good book and, even so, my mind drifts away to the Worry Zone.  Like can I really fit all those Christmas dinner things into one oven this year and how did I used to do it and oh! that’s right for 35 years I didn’t because Nyel did.  And weren’t there some phone calls I was supposed to make this morning or did I decide not to deal with those issues right now.,,

Tucker’s Cards and Ornaments

The thing is… I don’t remember all of this stewing about ordinary everyday things in times past.  Maybe I was too busy getting stuff done to have time to worry about it.  Which, of course, leads me to the conclusion that I should be busier…  But then again, who has the energy and what about a Christmas tree this year?  That mental discussion seems to go on daily  — a small tree I can handle myself or a traditional ten-footer so all the ornaments from four generations will have a place?  And what’s the point of having Christmas without the traditions anyway — without taking time to reflect on our blessings and to think about our loved ones and the joys we’ve shared.  For me, each decoration, each holiday tradition brings up joyful memories.  So… I guess the tree question is answered after all.

Heidemarie’s Christmas Angel

But, no doubt I’ll circle ’round to it again in the next few days.  Until I finally get moving toward the Christmas tree lot and get those decorations out of the back forty.  Meanwhile though, the calendar is filling up with notes about visitors to enjoy and events to attend and even a deadline or two to meet for the paper.  (Which, of course, sets the stewing a-boil again… do I really want to submit the column I have ready or is something else percolating that would be better.)   Snap and crackle goes the fire.  Snap and crackle go my synapses. Is it my age or the season? Probably a combination.  Whatever the reason, it seems to be a condition that’s here to stay for a while so I’d better get busy enjoying it, eh?

What in the world are they thinking?

Saturday, November 25th, 2023


I guess it’s just my week to be cranky.  But actually, the first page article in the Observer has me far beyond cranky.    “Feds target 400K barred owls to save spotted owl.”  Jeezusly-old-blue-shitwine!  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, no less. What is the matter with those people?  Too much testosterone?  A firm desire to support the NRA no matter what?  Have they learned NOTHING from other extermination projects gone awry?

At least the introduction of the mongoose to kill the rats in Hawaii was not done under the aegis of the government.  The mice and rats arrived inadvertently with shiploads of people and the sugar growers imported the mongoose to take care of the problem.  If you don’t know the result, Google it.  It’s a classic.

And then there was the near extinction the the bison or buffalo. According to site after site on Google, their destruction  had two important consequences: It left the vast grasslands open to the herds of cattle moving north from Texas. Now cattle ranches appeared in the north. More importantly, though, it robbed the Plains Tribes of the one resource that allowed them to move across the plains and continue their nomadic lifestyle.

Once upon a time…

Presumably, we are smarter now.  Studies are made.  Many studies.  Taxpayer dollars are spent.  Many dollars.  But, I can’t really imagine that we can choose the way we feel Mother Nature should stay in balance and then attempt to keep her that way.  No life form is static.  If the barred owl needs new habitat and it impinges on the spotted owl, perhaps we should let the the spotted owls figure out what to do about it.  Isn’t that the way nature works?  Survival of the fittest and all of that?  Perhaps they will surprise us with their ingenuity.

Meanwhile, the extermination of 400,000 barred owls just doesn’t seem prudent.  No matter how I look at it.


So, the other day when the lens fell out…

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2023


…of my glasses, I slipped it back in the frame ever-so-carefully and called my eye doctor to see if the optician was in.  She was, so I gathered my coat and purse and, also, my wits and drove ever-so-gingerly to have  it replaced properly.  It only fell out again once and I caught it before it hit a hard surface.  Whew!

Not only do I have just one pair of glasses (which I actually don’t need for distance since my cataract surgery some years ago) but I have been on the search for the same exact frames which I feel have “ME” written all over them.  I got them originally maybe 10 or more years ago at a little boutique frame shop on NW 23rd in Portland.  They were grotesquely expensive but Nyel and I both agreed:  I had to get them.  And, as far as I’m concerned they have to last as long as I do.


I feel that way especially because the boutique is no more and I have been unable to find a pair of glasses — perfectly round with no nose pads.  The optician at my former eye clinic said she couldn’t find them.  So… I was worried… Deep in my soul, I felt that this might be the beginning of the end…

And, sure enough, when the optician repaired them she said the screws are pretty well stripped and I’d best think about getting new frames.  I told her my sad story and she said, “Well, give me a minute…” and disappeared into the back room with my glasses  She came back a few minutes later with a print-out showing my exact frames from the manufacturer.  In Portland!  Still being made!  “But,” she said, “it looks like they only come in bronze.”  I don’t think I said “Oh Yuck!” out loud, but she said, “Their contact information is on here.  Why don’t you give them a call?”

Merry Christmas!

It took me a few days to get over the sticker shock but I justified it with the old “I deserve a Christmas present from myself” argument and I worked up the courage to call.  “Hang on a minute and I’ll see,” said the pleasant voice at the other end in answer to my “Do they come in black?” query.  YES!  And today they arrived in my mail!

Am I lucky or what?  Now the question is… should I have these lenses put in them or wait until my insurance will pay (well, partly) for a new pair of glasses?  I think that might be a year from now…  I guess another phone call is in order.

I’ve never thought of myself as a screamer…

Tuesday, November 21st, 2023

… but then I don’t think I’ve ever had much occasion for screaming.  Thank goodness!  The other day, though, I startled myself with my unexpected reaction — twice! — to seeing a squirrel (maybe) run across my pantry and then, again, across the storage area next to our garage. The downside:  I think those unexpected screams startled me more than the critter.  The upside (possibly) is that he/she/it/they/ seem to be gone.

I’m not for certain-sure just what sort of varmint it was.  It didn’t run along on all fours, hugging the wall like mice are apt to do.  And it was WAY bigger than a mouse.  And it didn’t run hell-bent-for-election and sort of hunkered down like I think of rats moving when startled.  But it was as big as a rat and my impression was that it was fairly dark in color and had a fluffy tail.  The biggest give-away, though, was that it went lippety-lippety — sort of leaping along with a vertical-motion-on-fast-forward.

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a squirrel run in a straight line.  Usually, there’s a tree nearby and they lippety-lip over and up as quick as a wink.  But, once I gathered my wits, I was pretty sure it was a small squirrel  — one more terrified of me (and my scream) than I was of her/him/it/them. I closed the doors behind me (in the direction of the main part of the house) and opened the store room door leading to the garage AND opened the garage door, too.  Then I called Tucker.

He, of course, was in the middle of a gathering at the schoolhouse (where I should have been but had completely forgotten…) but said he’d be over with a couple of live traps a little later.  We baited them with peanut butter and set one in the garage and one in the store room.  That was Saturday.  So far… no critters  Also so far, I knock on the doors before opening them (feeling a little demented as I do so.)  If someone is going go lippety-lippety, I prefer it done before I enter their territory.  Hearing myself scream is terrifying!

Third Cuzzins Twice Removed Are We!

Tuesday, November 14th, 2023

Cheryl, Virg, Sydney 11-13-23

Cheryl, my third cousin twice removed (and if that sounds familiar to those of you who “know” Ralph-my-favorite-researcher, it’s because Cheryl is Ralph’s sister) and her husband, Virg, came visiting for a couple of days.  They don’t live all that far away (in Lacey) for part of the year and at the water’s edge at Lake Chelan for part of the year… but,  even so, we don’t see each other all that often.  Not like we did when they had a place at Surfside instead of Lacey.

But things change and life moves on and now we content ourselves to a visit once or twice a year — often around Christmas when Ralph comes out from Virginia for the holidays.  This particular visit, though, is dedicated to a belated (by a year!) 80th birthday gift to Virg.  Actually, I’m not sure if its a gift to Virg or to me, as it involves the last of Nyel’s guns — all three of which were “long guns” used for duck or deer hunting and which came along with Nyel when we got together.  Much to my great horror, I might add, as I am anti-firearms to the point that I don’t think I even allowed Charlie a cap pistol when he was growing up.  But, as they say, “Love conquers all,” and we did get a gun safe.  Finally.

THE Most Beautiful Firewood Ever!!

This last gun is a Remington Model 512, .22 Bolt Action Gun, given to Nyel for Christmas when he was six years old by his father.  Since Nyel’s arms were not long enough to reach the trigger, his dad took the gun to a gunsmith and had six inches of the stock removed; when Nyel was old enough and tall enough, the gunsmith replaced (almost seamlessly) the missing end of the stock.  It’s a story Nyel occasionally told, not proudly, when he was describing his father (from whom his mother was divorced when Nyel was six months old.)  One of the first things I did after Nyel died was to divest myself of his guns — each to men who knew Nyel and who are hunters or collectors, themselves.  Virg asked me for the .22 “because it was Nyel’s” he said.  And, because he knew the story.  I know Nyel would be pleased.

And, typically, Virg and Cheryl came bearing gifts of their own — a wonderful (and gorgeous) insulated shopping bag and some of the most beautiful (and driest) firewood that has entered this old house in years.  Before dinner (for which Cheryl brought the fixings and commandeered the kitchen!), we had a celebratory fire and talked and lamented and laughed!  Third cousins twice removed and great friends!  How lucky I am.


July 21, 1969 – the beginning of a “new era”

Saturday, November 11th, 2023

Today, in one of my continuing “cleaning out and tidying up” binges, I ran across a copy of The Seattle Times — the “Night Final” edition for Monday, July 21, 1969, 50 pages, Price 10¢.  U.S. Astronauts Open New Era said the headline and the caption of a rather blurry AP. wirephoto read: ALDRIN DEPLOYED SOLAR-WIND EXPERIMENT AS ARMSTRONG, RIGHT, WATCHED.

Charlie and I were at our friends the Sorensens’ house with Marta’s dad — glued to a grainy black and white TV set, as I remember.  We thought Armstrong’s “…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” statement was cool and wondered if he thought that up himself.  And I remember feeling truly daunted that we all might be traveling into space some day.  (I am not a courageous flyer!)

And down  in the lower right corner Sen. Kennedy Charged With Leaving Scene of Accident.  Ah, yes!  Martha’s Vineyard, Teddy Kennedy, and Mary Jo Kopechne’s death.  Everything wasn’t moon landings and roses back in July 1969.  But… in the shopping news, you could buy a Toilet Seat — “replacement seats for any bathroom for $1.99” and the Help Wanted ads said that men age 19 & over “Regardless of Draft Status” were being hired at $3.80 per hour — no experience necessary.  (The jobs being offered, however, were not explained.)

Well… all-in-all I’m underwhelmed.  With both the Times and the times.  Somehow, many of us made it through but I’m not at all sure that either the small step or the giant step has gotten us very far.  Perhaps my expectations have been too high.


Oysterville House Concert #107!!

Monday, November 6th, 2023

Randal and Clint 1-5-23 — Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Yesterday marked the 107th House Concert hosted in this old house in Oysterville!  That’s “quite a many” as my mother would say!  In some ways, that’s hard to believe.  Each one has been unique.  Each one memorable. And each has added to the cumulative joy that shared music carries along with it.  Would that we could say that about all of our other endeavors in this tumultuous world!

Susan (singing), Randal and Clint 11-5-23 — Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Randal Bays, Susan Waters and Clint Dye shared the “stage” — Susan playing fiddle and also singing(!) which was a first in her appearances here.  Randal played fiddle and guitar and Clint (here for the first time) played guitar and joined in the chorus of one of Susan’s songs.  And, I might add that  “played” is not quite descriptive of Clint’s relationship with his instrument.  “Magical” and “riveting” might be more like it!  He is recent to the Irish music tradition and credits Randal with his interest and growing repertoire.

Randal’s first House Concert here was on January 28, 2001.  Nyel had remembered going to one or two such gatherings when he had lived in Seattle (pre-Sydney) and, when we met Randal (through my mother and her Vespers scheduling), Nyel asked him a little bit about the nuts and bolts of hosting such an event.  We talked it over, tweaked some of Randal’s information to fit our lifestyle, and invited him to be our “guinea pig.”  The rest is history, as they say!

Susan, Randal, Clint 11-5-23 Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

I’m not sure how many of those 107 concerts have involved Randal (and very soon Susan who was shortly to marry him.)  And then, over time, their sons Willie and Owen — although, come to think of it, I’m not sure the boys ever played here at the house — but they often did a family gig at Vespers pre-Covid.  Over the years, we’ve become “family” — Willie learning to crawl on our carpet; Owen, complete with a kid’s-sized chef hat helping Nyel cook in our kitchen, both boys perfecting their two-wheeler skills in our lane, and more than one holiday dinner with noise-makers and silliness!

We look forward to seeing more of Clint now that he’s met Oysterville and some of our House Concert followers.  I notice that Jayne Bailey, Bob Kelim and Suzanne Knutzen were all among Randal’s initial concert attendees here and were here yesterday, as as well!.  And, of course, many of yesterday’s audience members have been at other Randal Bays concerts over the years.  Someday — perhaps in my old age — I’ll take a look at how many there have been.  Probably one every year or so…

And until the next one… you can enjoy Randal (and various other accompanying musicians) on his CDs, available for sale online.  Just Google and you’ll come up with a number of possibilities!


If you missed the Nov. 1st History Forum…

Saturday, November 4th, 2023

…or even if you didn’t, pour yourself a cup of coffee, fire up your computer and go to  Michael Lemeshko’s video (all in one piece this time and complete with visual aids!) is up and running.  And, even if you were there, if you are like I am, you will come away hearing more than you did when you were up close and personal!  Annoyingly, I even knew immediately the names of things I couldn’t think of at the time!  Doncha just hate when that happens?

Dr. Elijah White

Besides the story of Willie Kiel’s unusual trek along the Oregon Trail to get to Pacific County in 1855, Steve Rogers peppered his talk with lots of fascinating information about North County, about Baby Island, and about other bits of fascinating early Pacific County history.  And besides that, he had us all laughing with his banter about the infamous Kidnapping of the County Seat from Oysterville and some gentle offers of loaning it back to us… or something like that!

Michael’s presentation on Pacific City turned out to be a Power Point Program complete with plat maps and photos of a few the early property owners of that ill-fated endeavor.  We all got a better idea of just where Elijah White’s dream city might have been located and a  glimpse of the man himself — just enough to make us all wonder if he was an impassioned promoter or a downright shyster.  In addition, Michael had some great suggestions for sources for those who would like to follow-up with a bit of research of their own.

And as for the “audience” — fabulous participation!  In fact, let’s scratch the word “audience” and call the participants exactly what they were — a forum-in-the-making!  Hooray!  Next step (maybe) a website where we can “carry on” between our First Wednesday get-togethers!  Fingers crossed!