Posts Tagged ‘Historic Oysterville Church’

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  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!

Hoping for Hip! Hip! Hooray!

Thursday, March 7th, 2019

Window Project, Oysterville Church 2019

When it comes to old structures like our house or the church across the street, I am in favor of repairing (if possible), restoring (if necessary) and replacing (never!)  I know there isn’t always a choice, but I love the old workmanship and, if it can’t be saved but replication is possible, then so be it.  But the choices aren’t so varied with people just yet – at least I don’t think so.

Nyel’s Hip Repair

These thoughts have come to mind in the last few days as many folks have kindly asked how Nyel is doing after his “hip replacement” and, I have to confess, I keep thinking of what friends have experienced after one or both hips have been “redone.”  So many people have sailed through – “back to work in a week” said one friend.  Don’t we wish.  (“Work”   meaning chicken duties in Farmer Nyel’s case, of course!)

As I understand it, the surgical procedure used to repair a broken hip can vary depending on a number of factors.  According to one website: In general, fractures of the very top of the thigh bone, called the femoral neck, are treated with replacement.   If the femoral neck fracture is not at all displaced, a repair of the break may be considered.  Apparently, that isn’t the problem or solution for Nyel.

Fractures below the neck of the femur, called intertrochanteric fractures, are treated with surgical repair using rods, plates, or screws. Nyel has  experienced a displaced subtrochanteric left hip fracture with full shaft width displacement.  For him it’s been the rod and screw treatment!

So, starting at the top of that long left leg:  a rod through the two parts of the  brokenhip, a connecting rod through his femur down to his kneejoint, held in place by two screws.  There, mid-leg, is his bionic knee.  Next comes the tibia and fibula – both broken in October.  The tibia was repaired with a plate and six screws – maybe more, says Nyel. The spiral fracture of the fibula has actually healed on its own.  So, there you have it.  Metal from hip to ankle!  I asked Nyel if that left leg felt heavier than his all-flesh-and-bone right leg.  “Maybe,” he said.  Maybe, indeed!

Full recovery from this hip repair may take up to a year and, according to many sources, only about 50 percent of people regain their full function.  The biggest challenges are mobility, strength, and balance.  In Nyel’s case, “full function” went out with the quadriceps surgeries seven and five years ago.  But we’ll be working hard to get him back to the best possible level of functionality. Step One:  Get him stabile enough to get out of here and get home to the chickens!  It’s in Oysterville that Farmer Nyel and his bionic parts really shine!

More Than Meets Eye and Ear

Monday, December 17th, 2018

Yesterday’s carol singing at the church sounded fabulous as it always does!  And I don’t think it was just the acoustics, although almost every musician who comes to Oysterville to play or sing in that little historic building comments on the wonderful quality of the sound.  But, truly, there is something about the community getting together – neighbors, friends, strangers – and singing those old, familiar songs that makes me misty-eyed.  And I know I wasn’t the only one!

If we are lucky, we’ll get to see ourselves – maybe on YouTube or someplace similar. (Is YouTube a place???) The photographer had set up his video equipment right in front of the pew where Gretchen Goodson and I were sitting.  What he saw, we saw.  (Later, I learned that he is Robert Leamy and has a shop called Impressing Ideas at the Surfside Mall – )

He had the advantage, though, of being an itinerant filmmaker – itinerant in the wandering-through-the-church-during-the-program sense.  He walked to the front and looked back at us.  He moved over to the Sunday school room where the Bayside Singers sat and filmed them head on.  He zoomed in. And out.  And panned.  And undoubtedly made other technical maneuvers beyond my ken.

And, several times, I just stopped singing altogether so I could immerse myself in the ambience of it all.  I can’t help but wonder how I’ll feel about the video if ever I do get to see it.  There are some things that are simply more than the sum of their parts and, sometimes, you just had to be there.  I’m glad I was!

Concerning Roses and the Oysterville Church

Wednesday, December 5th, 2018

Oysterville Church On Its 10th Anniversary, 1902

In Act II, Scene II of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” young Juliet says:  What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.  I think of those words now and again when things near and dear to my heart are not given their due.   Or when they are confused with something else.

In the last two days, such has been the case of the Oysterville Church.  Twice.  Yesterday, someone mistakenly thought the Church came under the auspices of the Oysterville Community Club (abbreviated OCC).  Our little church is actually owned and operated by the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF).  It’s an easy mistake to make, especially given the size of our village and the fact that there are only two buildings available for public use – the schoolhouse and the church.  The schoolhouse, still owned by the Ocean Beach School District, is managed by the OCC.  The church is another matter.

Oysterville Schoolhouse, 1940s

Not only do people confuse who owns which building, they get the buildings themselves confused.  Mostly, those are people not overly familiar with Oysterville.  After all, both structures have a belfry.  Historically, both have been painted white.  Both are “old-fashioned” – built within 15 years of each other.  The church was built in 1892; the schoolhouse in 1907.  Perhaps if you’ve only seen them once or twice, you could get mixed up.  Perhaps.

But even worse than getting the church’s ownership confused is getting its location wrong!  This very morning, I received an email that said: I am happy to tell you that Oysterville Church was chosen for the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards in the category of Church. The Best of Ocean Park Award was created to acknowledge the best businesses in our community.

Oysterville Church by Bob Duke

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Ocean Park is a fine community.  But it is not Oysterville.  Our little Historic Church defines our National Historic District and is symbolic of our Oysterville community which was the first to be established on the west side of Shoalwater Bay back in 1854.  Until the 1880s, it was the ONLY community on the Peninsula and it is, nowadays, the oldest village in Pacific County.  Choosing our church for “the 2018 Best of Ocean Park Awards” is just plain wrong.  No matter how the roses smell!