Posts Tagged ‘Historic Oysterville Church’

Should I or shouldn’t I, Mrs. Crouch?

Wednesday, August 25th, 2021

From Jim Harold’s “New Paranormal Plus Club” Site

First thing this morning (at 5:38 a.m.), I received an email from the associate producer at Jim Harold Media.  She says she has been sent my way “by listener request” and writes, “Jim would be delighted to have the opportunity to interview you concerning your two Ghost Stories books.”

Oh my.  There’s nothing that makes me feel quite so old and inept as reading a few paragraphs that involve words like “podcasts” and “downloads” (50 million of them!) and “best-selling authors and TV personalities” that I’ve never heard of.  Plus, of course, there’s my knee-jerk reaction to words like “paranormal” and “investigators.”

As I’ve said from the get-go, I’m interested in the history of our area — especially the wonderful stories of our forebears.  I’m all about putting “the story back in history” and, if it happens to be a ghost story, that’s fine with me.  But… do I believe in ghosts?  My jury is out.  And never mind that Mrs. Crouch and I have a long-term relationship of experiences and exasperations.  I’ve never met her or heard her speak so, although I give her a lot of credit for the goings-on around this house, I am not 100% sure that she’s the cause.

Oysterville Church, 1902

What I am sure of is that Sarah Tedder Crouch was the wife of the first minister to serve at the Oysterville Baptist Church from 1892 to 1893.  I am sure that she drowned in the Willapa River under circumstances questionable enough that a warrant was out (but never served) for the arrest of her husband, Reverend Josiah Crouch.  And I’m sure of a lot more, besides.  That’s the history part and it can be documented.  The rest… I’m not so sure.

So, I can’t help but wonder what Mrs. C. would say about my response to the Jim Harold Media’s associate producer.  Would an interview just encourage the looky-loos and the teams of investigators with their “scientific” equipment?  Or would it encourage book sales and. ultimately, a greater interest in the history of this area?  Should I or shouldn’t I say “yes,” Mrs. Crouch?

Say a prayer and cross your fingers!

Thursday, July 22nd, 2021

The 43rd year of Vesper services begins a week from Sunday — “God willin’ an the creek don’t rise” as our friend George Talbott used to say.  The Oysterville Restoration Foundation waited until Governor Inslee made his July 1st “proclamation” regarding Covid protocols for the rest of the summer — assuming, of course, that things continue to get better, not worse.

In answer to  the question, can religious and faith based services be held:
Yes. It is permissible to hold indoor and outdoor services at full capacity with no physical distancing requirements.  The services covered in these operational guidelines include all worship services, religious study classes, religious ceremonies, religious holiday celebrations, weddings, funerals, and support groups.

So, as of July 1st, Carol Wachsmuth and I got to work!  (You might remember that both of us have long since “retired from our volunteer scheduling jobs, but it seemed important to get started” and no one else had stepped up.)  We divided the responsibilities — Carol would book the ministers and the ORF members who would present the Oysterville Moments; I would schedule the musicians and the organists.  Vespers would start August 1st and continue every Sunday afternoon through September 26th.  A bit shorter season — only nine Sundays as opposed to twelve — and a much shorter time span in which to do the scheduling — three weeks as opposed to our usual six months!!

A Sign of Summer

We had no time to wait for people to adjust their own calendars or readjust vacations  or (in the case of musicians) to pull a group together or, or…  And, miraculously, every single person we contacted was able to fit themselves in where they were needed.  THE best volunteers EVER!  We finished booking by July 16th and asked all participants to double-check the sample bulletin just in case.  On Tuesday-the-20th we  took the finished copy to LazerQuick, and distributed the finished bulletins to the ministers that very afternoon!

OMG!  35 participants filling 36 spots over 9 weeks and all scheduled within three weeks!  Unbelievable and unprecedented and a tribute to all the volunteers who have given so generously of their time in the past!  And all of whom have told us time after time how dreadfully they  missed Vespers last year.  Just like the rest of us!  Say a prayer and keep your fingers crossed that it will all work out as intended.  And see you there a week from Sunday — three o’clock, August 1st!

The Oysterville Church Is Open Again!

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021

Seeing the “Church Open” sign from my dining room window once more makes me feel that all’s right with the world again — at least with this little corner of it. In the vestibule, though, on each of the inner doors — one leading to the sanctuary and the other to the room we’ve always called “The Sunday School Room” — are signs asking visitors who enter to please wear masks.  Perhaps instructions/suggestions will change once we get Governor Inslee’s promised July 1st Directives.

As for scheduled events — the first to take place since sheltering began in March 2020 was a wedding last Saturday.  And what a wedding it was!  All the men arrived in kilts and the women in ankle-length pleated skirts or other authentic-looking regalia and, from what I could see, all in the same tartan.  Perhaps, because of Covid uncertainties, they had confined the guest list to family members only which would explain the matching tartans.  Even the pipers’ kilts matched.   I wish I had taken a picture, but now that I am no longer the church scheduler and have no interaction with brides beforehand, I felt it might be a bit intrusive.

The other regular church usage in the summer, of course, is our twelve weeks of  Sunday Music Vespers services.  Traditionally, they have begun on Fathers’ Day and continued through Labor Day Sunday.  At the present time,  the Oysterville Restoration Foundation does not have a Vespers Co-ordinator, so Carol Wachsmuth and I have agreed to do the programming for August and September with the caveat that the scheduling will remain flexible — just “in case. ”   All things being equal, there will be nine Music Vespers services — five in August and four in September.  Keep your fingers crossed!

We hope that ministers and musicians and the other volunteers who make the weekly services possible will be willing to commit to a date that could, in a worst case scenario, be cancelled at the last minute.  It surely isn’t our first preference — not how we’d choose “to run this railroad” — but as long as there  are possibilities of a “fifth wave” or some other dread Covid follow-up, “flexible” will be our word to live by.

Meanwhile, feel free to come and visit the church.  You might remember that it was refurbished inside and out in 2018 and 2019, and there are few places amid summer’s hubbub that are lovlier for spending some quiet moments of peace and thankfulness.

 

 

Spires, Inspirations and Aspirations

Saturday, May 1st, 2021

The 1892 Spire Handoff, April 30, 2021

The closest thing Oysterville has to a museum is “Tucker’s Arcade” which you probably know is a work in progress.  Probably always will be.  Tucker is a collector, after all, and an eclectic one at that.  There is never an end in sight to interesting possibilities.

Meanwhile… for years our Back Forty has been the repository for many Oysterville-related items — paintings by known and unknown artists (especially of the church), old photographs and letters and documents from or to or concerning old Oysterville residents and, almost anything church-related that needs storage for “a while.”

Perhaps the church connection dates back to the 1892 construction of the church by my great-grandfather — the same year that he purchased this house to be used as a parsonage.  Somehow, the house has been collecting odd bits and pieces ever since.  For years before the church had heat, the little pump organ spent every winter here in the house.  Votive candles left over from weddings and vases from vespers and extra reflectors from the (now) non-existent kerosene lanterns all wait against the day they will be needed.  And that is to say nothing of the many boxes of walking tours that await distribution once the church can be opened to the public again — an ongoing responsibility for whoever lives here, it seems.

Doubly in-spire-ing! September 2012

As Nyel and I begin our Big Cleanout Project, we think about these things.  Some items  will eventually go back to the church but some… we’re not sure.  So it is with the 1892 church spire.  When it was replaced in 1980 during the Church Restoration project, the old one came to our house and, in lieu of an Oysterville museum, here it has stayed.  Waiting.  In 1912, the current spire (made by Ossie Steiner and, actually, just a little bit bigger than the original) came down for re-painting.  Tucker and I had our pictures taken with the new and the old spires and Tucker said something like, “If you ever decide you need to get rid of this original spire…”

So it was that, last night, Nyel and I turned over that historic piece of Oysterville to Tucker.  He says he has the perfect place for it in his Arcade.  “But what we really need in Oysterville is a museum,” he said.  We couldn’t agree more.  Even though we love and adore the Columbia Pacific Heritage Museum and have great respect for the all-encompassing history archived at the Pacific County Historical Society Museum, it would be nice if Oysterville had a little place of its own.  You know — an inside space to reflect the history of the Historic Oysterville and the National Historic District (which is a museum, of sorts, all on its own.)

Shoulda… Woulda… Couldn’t

Sunday, September 6th, 2020

A Sign of Summers Past

In a normal world (and, hopefully, in the new normal world, whenever that arrives) this should/would have been the last Sunday of Music Vespers at the Oysterville Church.  Without our usual three o’clock Sunday services, it has seemed a strange summer, indeed.

To us, it has been the most noticeable of all the oddities of this Sheltering Summer.  Not only because we have attended since “the beginning” (some 40 years ago) and not only because we have often participated in the programs, but also because we are right across the street in the once-upon-a-time parsonage.  There is an almost visceral connection between this house and the church.

Vespers July 15, 2013

I’m sure it has always been so.  The church, funded by R.H. Espy was completed in the fall of 1892 and was dedicated on October 9th of that year.  In June 1893, the first full-time pastor arrived.  Rev. Josiah Crouch and his family were ensconsed in this house which Deacon Espy had purchased for the purpose.

For the first time since the Baptist Church had been established in Oysterville in 1871, the little congregation had both a house of worship and a parsonage for their minister.  Heretofore, they had met at Deacon Espy’s home each week and, if an itinerant minister was not available, one of the congregation led the service.  When the Crouch family arrived there was great rejoicing on the part of the Oysterville Baptists.

Susan Waters, PhD – at Vespers, June 23, 2019

Now, of course, the little church is owned by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation, it is ecumenical and no longer denominational, and it is used for many purposes.  The only regular services occur on summer Sundays from Father’s Day through Labor Day Sunday.  Except for this year when they couldn’t.

First I was teary… then speechless!

Friday, August 28th, 2020

Tied With A Bow!

When the doorbell rang yesterday in mid-afternoon, I couldn’t imagine who it could be.  By the time I arrived to answer… not a soul.  But there was a large Harry and David box on the bench next to the door and it was addressed to me!

“Thank you for being there and all you have done since Day 1!  ORF!! Everyone.”  OMG!  Really?  And being the sophisticated woman of the world that I know myself to be, I began to weep…

Snacks To Die For

As of this month, I have resigned completely from my role as “Church Lady.”  Two (or maybe three) years ago, I lucked out when Carol Wachsmuth agreed to take on the Music Vespers scheduling job that I had done since the early nineties when my mother could no longer manage it.  Then, wonder of wonders, Vicki Carter agreed to take on the job of church scheduling — for weddings, funerals, concerts… whatever… and, yesterday, I turned over the scheduling information to her.  That job I’d taken on in the 1980s when the woman who was doing it moved away.  Hard to believe I’ve been talking to brides for almost 40 years!

Nine Individually Wrapped Pears

I am so delighted that, in both cases, friends in whom I have the utmost faith have taken on those big responsibilities. I had given no thought to any further closure.  Certainly, I never expected a gift!  And such a gorgeous one, too!   A big metal box-like tray with handles, totally surrounded by cold packs, and tied with big white ribbon, contained the following:

9 individually wrapped pears
1 4-ounce package sharp white cheddar
1 box 3-seed crackers
1 10-ounce jar pepper and onion relish
12 rasperry gallette cookies
13 chocolate cherries
6 assocrted chocolate truffles
1 bag of six mint chocolates
1 bag Moose Munch milk chocolate premium popcorn

I am overwhelmed.  I called ORF president Paul but had to leave a message.  I wrote a lame thank you letter to the ORF trustees.  I don’t really know how to say thank you for a gift for doing a job that gave me so many positive experiences and introduced me to so many wonderful people over the years.  And… whoops!  Here come the tears again…

Robert, Julia, Lewis, and Louise – 1869-1871

Friday, April 10th, 2020

Photo Courtesy of the Pacific County Historical Society

Yesterday, this marvelous photograph of the Teachers’ Institute, September 1-6, 1902 was posted on the Pacific County Historical Society’s facebook page.  It was labeled “Oysterville” and Keith Cox tagged me, asking if I could identify the setting more specifically.  I couldn’t.  Neither could Tucker.  But I do have a related story…

Some of the names were written on the back of the photo, though they are not matched up to the individuals pictured.  One name called out to me:  Mrs. L. A. Loomis.  I doubt very much if she was teaching in 1902.  More likely the Institute included a luncheon for all Pacific County teachers and former teachers.  (Those pictured here probably number many more than all the teachers in the county at that time.)

Julia Jefferson Espy on her wedding day, 1870

My story about Mrs. Loomis begins in the late spring of 1869.  My great-grandfather, Robert Espy, and his friend Lewis Loomis were both on the Oysterville School Board and they were going to need a teacher for the following school year.  (Felicia Brown who had held the position for the 1868-1869 year had taken a position elsewhere.)

So, in the Spring of 1869, Loomis and Espy journeyed to the Normal School at the University of Salem (now Willamette University) to interview young graduates who might be interested in the job.  They chose Miss Julia Jefferson.  She was 18 years old, was graduating with honors, and was the prettiest young lady in her class.

In Oysterville, she managed the school, grades one through eight (sometimes numbering 50 students), with a firm hand and boarded at the Stevens Hotel.  Two of the Stevens girls who were near her age were not at all pleased with the attention Julia received throughout the year from Robert Espy.  He was, after all, one of the most eligible bachelors in town and they felt that, as long-time neighbors, they should have proprietary rights.

Oysterville School 1875-1907

When Robert proposed to Julia, she agreed to a late summer wedding and the Oysterville School was again without a teacher.  Again, Robert and Lewis journeyed to Salem to interview prospective teachers and again they chose the prettiest and brightest member of the graduating class:  Miss Louise Glover.  The following summer Louise married Lewis, becoming Mrs. L.A. Loomis.

End of story.  Except that the teacher who was hired next was an Oysterville woman, Harriet Wing…

Getting Our Just Desserts

Monday, April 6th, 2020

Yesterday we went on the Fresh Food Foray — to CostCo and Fred Meyers (curbside) to get some of the items we can’t get through online ordering.  Before we went, Nyel had baked oatmeal raisin cookies (yum!) and then added sugar to the CostCo list.

“Really?” I asked.  Nyel rarely bakes and we don’t use sugar for much else.  “The hummingbirds are back,” was his reply.  Enough said.  Soon we’ll be filling our feeder a couple of times a week at a cup of sugar a pop.  Yep.  I made a mental note.

There was brown sugar and powdered sugar but no white, granulated at CostCo.  No sugar at Freddy’s either.  When we got home, we looked at Amazon.  Expensive but it will be here later this week.  The hummingbirds will be grateful

I told  Marta and Charlie about it during our weekly conference call last night  “It’s sounding a lot like World War II when everything was rationed,” Marta said.  But she was a generation too late to remember that first-hand.  I, on the other hand, well remember rationing books and standing in line at the corner grocery store when their supply of sugar came in.  Desserts were a rare treat when I was a little girl.  I remember my mom saving up sugar for my birthday cake when I was six or seven.

And, then, the aha moment!  Never in all my years since “the war” have I put rationing together with hoarding.  But… of course!  How else to give everyone a chance at the items that had suddenly become rare commodities?  And if, as some medical professionals predict, this virus will be with us for a while, is rationing in the near future for us?  If our hummingbirds had a vote, they’d probably say “yes!”

 

The View from Across the Street

Thursday, April 11th, 2019

Tucker’s photograph of our house taken through the Sunday School window across the street has immediately gone right to the top of my all-time favorite images!  It was among the many photos he took to accompany my article for the Chinook Observer about the recent renovation of the historic Oysterville Church. The picture appeared on page A8 of yesterday’s paper but, unfortunately, space dictated that it be smallish and its impact was , therefore, smallish as well.   For a really good look at this stunning image, check out the online version at https://www.chinookobserver.com/news/local/oysterville-s-pearl-glows-again/article_fb18420a-5a73-11e9-8688-ab9de0b8f2bc.html.  Fabulous!

As I wrote in the caption (all of which appears online but not in the hard copy of the paper): The history of the Oysterville Church restoration can be seen through the window looking east from the Sunday School room toward Territory Road. Through the top panes, the view is wavy, like the old panes, themselves. The bottom left pane is less wavy, perhaps replaced in a former restoration, and the bottom right pane is quite clear, probably one of the two replacements needed during the project just completed.

Which brings us to the (often misunderstood) wavy glass phenomenon, itself.  Contrary to what you may have heard, window panes don’t “become” wavy over time because of gravity.  It’s the way they were/are made in the first place that determines their clarity and, if you are interested in replacing an old broken pane, you can (for a price) still buy wavy glass.  There are many sites on the internet that explain the manufacturing methods and how the advent of more modern techniques in the 1890s resulted in clear window glass rather than the old, wavy type.

I love it that we have some of each kind – though mostly wavy – in the church!  And I especially love it that Tucker captured that particular piece of church history with this wonderful photograph.

Getting Ready to Gussy Out in Oysterville!

Thursday, March 21st, 2019

Prep Work in the Church

It’s Spring!  The calendar tells me so.  If it weren’t for that, I’d have thought that we’d skipped a season and leaped directly into summer.  It’s been sunny and warm – no make that hot! – all week here in Oysterville.  On Tuesday, it was 80° in the shade– almost too hot to work out in the garden.  But, even I, the very reluctant gardener, was out trying to clean up some of the ravages of winter.  (Actually, our winter was fairly mild.  Probably our garden ravages are of the benign neglect variety.)

And in keeping with all the other seasonal refurbishing in the neighborhood, the church is being outfitted with a fresh summer frock.  Yes!  At long last, the new wallpaper is about to be installed.  It will be the finishing touch to a huge restoration that began last fall with roof and gutter repairs, a new coat of exterior paint, and restored windows (which are still ‘in progress.’)  Oh, yes!  And a freshly painted picket fence and some repairs to the porch and its railing.

Scaffolding in the Sunday School Room

Now that the leaky parts have finally been identified and corrected, the wallpaper can be replaced without fear of damage when the rains come back.  The work has been overseen by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation Board of Directors – especially by Paul Staub who has been in charge of the window restoration and by Martie Kilmer who spearheaded the wallpaper project.  The restoration work – the most extensive since the church’s initial preservation project in 1980 – has been funded with assistance from the Kinsman Foundation.

I can scarcely wait until the interior work is completed!  What a treat for Oysterville and for the community at large – our 127-year-old church all gussied out like new!  And right in time for the wedding season and for the 42nd annual Summer Music Vespers series which begins on June 16th. I couldn’t be more excited if I were getting a new look, myself!