Posts Tagged ‘Oysterville’

Off on the Great Clam Hunt!

Thursday, June 10th, 2021

The Intrepid Clammers

Chef Nyel sent us intrepid ones off to tideflats to get a few clams for the paella.  “A couple of dozen should be plenty,” said he, and off we went — Alex and three of his kids with me as guide.  It was seven ayem; Charlie slept in.

Hard At It!

The morning was fabulous — blue skies with patches of fluffy white, still and windless.  We had the bay to ourselves and it seemed we could see from one end to the other.   Besides one another, the only signs of life to be seen were a few teeny-tiny crabs scuttling southwards.  I couldn’t help think how lucky we all are that our family has retained these second-class tidelands.  We represented three of the five generations since our great/great-great/great-great-great grandfather R.H. Espy first arrived on these very tideflats in 1854.  My fondest hope is that there will be many more Espy desescendents who will enjoy “Grandpa’s Village” of Oysterville and all it has to offer…

Dinner Companions’ First Meeting

There seemed to be a plethora of clams — but quite small.  We filled the chef’s request plus a few more and were back at the house by eight o’clock to scrub them clean and put them in a bucket of fresh bay water.  They spent yesterday cleaning themselves until the chef is ready to begin tonight’s dinner!  YUM!  I can scarcely wait!

Is our sheltering condition morphing?

Friday, February 26th, 2021

Fireside Evenings — Perfect!

As we approach the first anniversary of “sheltering in place” (which for us is right here at home)… and now that we’ve had our two covid vaccinations… we are looking forward to getting out and about more.  Or at least that’s what we tell one another.

But the truth of the matter is that we haven’t suffered all that much by staying at home.  In fact, neither of us is much of a go-go sort.  I do enjoy certain sorts of gatherings — openings at the Heritage Museum or local galleries, Community Historian classes and outings and, of course, parties.  Otherwise — for shopping of any kind, I’d rather let my fingers do the walking and, once again, thank goodness for the internet.

Nyel, on the other hand loves to shop — but only in the old-fashioned sense of looking, looking, looking.  “For what?” I ask him.  “Nothing,” is the usual response.  Thank goodness.  Because the only places he “shops” are thrift stores, junk shops and, occasionally, salvage yards.  I try to bite my tongue.  What we don’t need is more junk.  Now I lament that those forays of his are pretty much past… now that he’s been confined to a wheelchair.  As in be careful what you wish for.

Best Place Ever For Relaxing and Visiting and Watching the Tides Change

What we’ve both missed most during this sheltering time is seeing our friends.  We’ve always done a lot of hosting right here at home.  It’s a house that is happiest when it is full of people or so it has always seemed to me.  My mother and her six siblings were raised here and continued coming back as adults and bringing their own families.  During my childhood, I associated “Granny and Papa’s House” with talk and laughter and people everywhere.  When it was our turn to move in, Nyel and I continued the full-house tradition — the best way we could.  By hosting parties and gatherings and house concerts.

So the sheltering hasn’t been all that difficult from a leaving-home-standpoint.  I wonder,  though, when it is finally unnecessary…  will we feel the need to leave home at all?  And if not, will we call our condition “agoraphobia? ”  I hope not.    “Homebodies” sounds better…

When your computer shows signs of dementia…

Saturday, January 2nd, 2021

February 3, 2019 – From Cyndy Hayward

Yesterday, my much younger (and very much sharper) neighbor wrote to me  after reading my blog in which I had stated that we’d last had snow in Oysterville in 2017 or maybe 2014: I am attaching a picture taken February 3, 2019, from Merchant St. looking toward your property.  There was glorious, deep snow on the 3th and the 4th of that year.  I’m a little surprised that you don’t remember, since it was in your birthday month.

The fact that I didn’t remember — birthday month notwithstanding! — didn’t seem a bit surprising, actually.  My forgetter is much better these days than ever before.  But what did bother me (a lot!) was that I had done a search on my blogs — all 3,919 of them! — for the word “snow” and the most recent ones to show up were in the two aforementioned years.  No blogs that mentioned snow later than 2017.   But here was a gorgeous photograph from Cyndy to say otherwise.

February 4, 2019 – Photo by Sydney Stevens

After receiving her enail, I repeated my search with the same result — nada!  But snow is unusual in Oysterville; surely I would have written about it.  So I then looked for the precise dates she had mentioned and… up popped a blog titled “Of White Snow and Sooty Sweeps” complete with my own snow pictures taken in 2019!  I was amazed and annoyed at the same time.  There was the word “snow” as big as life right in the blog’s title and my computer’s search function had totally ignored it.  It’s one thing for me to forget, but an entirely different matter for my trusty computer to do so.  I DEPEND upon its memory and its cleverness as my own abilities along those lines diminish.

I flashed back to the late eighties (I think) when Sue Anderson, Janet Morrison, and I travelled back and forth to Longview every week to take a computer class.  We were trying to learn something about MS-DOS (I think); it was long before Windows and Word were available (maybe).  About the only thing I remember from those lessons is “garbage in, garbage out.”  Not helpful right now.  Whether of not I want to classify my February 4, 2019 blog as “garbage,” it went in but wouldn’t show itself on demand.  A lot like my own, personal memory of when we last had snow in Oysterville.

Disconcerting, to say the least.  Maybe what they say about the human brain also applies to computers — after so many years, there is just too much information to sort through and so some of it is “forgotten.”  Damn!  So much for the robotic hope for the future.  Fuggedaboudit!

This used to be a nice neighborhood…

Wednesday, September 16th, 2020

A Popular Sign

Most of us old-timers in Oysterville can remember clearly when, not so many years ago, no one locked their doors here.  Now, we can’t put out a campaign sign for one of our  long-time, third-generation neighbors without it getting ripped off.  Twice so far.

After our first “Dan Driscoll for Commissioner” sign disappeared back in July, Dan replaced it, and I faithfully brought the new one into the house each evening before dark and set it out again in the morning.  Then came the smoke, the poor visibility, my sore throat and scratchy eyes and… I became complacent.

Yesterday morning:  the sign was gone.  For the second time.  Carolyn Long’s sign (a bit catywampus) is still there, though I hesitate to say so for fear it, too, will be stolen.  I don’t see any other nearby Driscoll signs gone, but I haven’t actually taken an inventory.  So Nyel and I have the uncomfortable feeling that we are being specifically targeted.

Carolyn Long Survives!

On the other hand, all of the Wolfe signs within view of our house are still up.  It seems possible that it’s one of Frank’s supporters who is doing the dirty deed.  Perhaps Frank needs to have a word with them.  Especially because, of the many Frank Wolfe signs in the village, only one is in front of a voting resident’s home.  The others are a bit misleading since the homeowners live elsewhere full-time and are not eligible to vote in Pacific County.

While it is true that every voter registered in Pacific County can vote in the general election for any one of the candidates running for Pacific County Commissioner  (unlike in the Primary Election in which only the voters in each candidate’s Commissioner district can vote), those voting privileges do not extend beyond the county line.   Perhaps those particular sign displayers are confused about that.   More likely, they are trying to show support for a candidate who most voting residents of the village do not support — an unhappy statement in itself.

Sign or no sign, Dan has our support!

To me, the sign-stealing is just one more example of the neighborhood going downhill.  The Big City Folk move in and good manners and respect seem to evaporate.  It’s too bad.  Perhaps Frank should have a little talk with some of his Oysterville supporters.  They aren’t doing his cause any good at all.  And why the Driscoll signs that Nyel and I have displayed seem to be a particular target is a mystery to us.  If you have an idea, do weigh in!  Inquiring minds want to know.


Sometimes you forget…

Friday, July 31st, 2020

House Book – Front Cover

I recently “ran across” (which means, really, that I zeroed in on what had been in front of my very eyes for years and years) my “House Book” from the years I lived on the bay in the house that Ossie (and Wolfgang and Gunter) built for me.  The book is essentially two leather  covers enclosing a few hundred “blank” pages — or they were once.  During those years — 1980 – 2000) many people filled the book’s pages with  drawings, advice, praise, more drawings and general craziness.

The book was made for me by Nancy Lloyd in the days she specialized in leather craft.  It contains an amazing history of my life in that house and is full of memories of the wonderful people who visited me there, who partied there, who touched my life and who will always be in my heart.

"Gore & Roar" 9/3/82 by Gordon Schoewe

“Gore & Roar” 9/3/82 by Gordon Schoewe

I love reading it, though it tugs fearfully at my heartstrings.  On 3/29/80, just after I had moved in,  my dad wrote:  May this house (and home) never be finished — the essence of life is expectation. — Dad (WWLittle).

The first time Nyel’s name appeared was on 9/28/84.  He was included in the notation made by me:  Dennis Crabb’s “musical wish group” met here.  Along with Nyel’s name were listed Kathy Sayce, Ann Kischner, Ann Hauser, me.  Was that the first glimmer of the “Water Music Festival?”  But where were Patty and Noel and Kathy Crabb?

By Charles Mulvey 11/10/84

And SO many parties!  A Goodbye to Lawrence Lessard party in 1984 and again in 1986 (go figure!); birthday parties (many!) for Gordon and Roy and Noel and Nyel; High Tide parties toward the end of each December (usually); anniversary celebrations for my mom and dad;  Cinco de Mayo celebrations; come-and-meet-our-friends-from-Calif. or Ariz. (or Seattle or Boston or Oxford) parties; and Just Because parties.

On 4/16/94 Willard wrote Paradise is to be at Sydney’s and Nyel’s, by the bay, on a sunny day in April…Love Willard and Louise.    And in August 1995, notes from my cousins Joey and Mona Espy from NYC and New Orleans, respectively.

By Hannah Snyder 8/8/88

Throughout the book are (typically) nutty messages to  “Mommy” from Charlie commemorating his annual Christmas and occasional summer visits.  On Christmas 1994 he wrote:  I came here and saw Mommy & Nyel & Bowser.  Bowser loves me.  Big Kitty Jr. is at home all by himself for the first time, and he is lonely.  I have asked Nyel to try to find me a hardcover copy of Wittgenstein’s “Tractus Philologicus” which I’ve wanted to read for a long time– but now I’m reading “Hopeful Monsters” by Nicholas Mosely which refers to it.  We are having chicken… 

House Book- Back Cover

At the very end of the book is a list of “Sightings” which begins 4/11/86  at 7:30 a.m. 2 adult raccoons on Sydney’s Road heading for woods; 7:45 a.n. cock pheasant between house and high tide line… and continues to record deer and black bear and elk and hawks for pages and pages!

How rich our lives have been!


The Next Generation In Town Again!

Thursday, May 28th, 2020

Photo by Tucker Wachsmuth

Yesterday it was the Deer People who were checking out the possibilities in Tucker and Carol’s backyard!  I’m not sure where else they mosied while they were in town, but I don’t think they came over our way.  Nyel and I were actually outside in our garden for a good part of the day — filling in the mole and dandelion holes with dirt, grass seed and topsoil — and we didn’t see them.

Greens from Carol

It was hot.  We worked for most of the afternoon.  We have that much and more still left to do.  Maybe this weekend.  As Nyel says, “They’ll keep.”  And, anyway, we have other things to accomplish.  Hard things like defrost the built-in refrigerator in the bar which is the very worst job in the house.  More on that at some later date.

And, we want to finish up the greens that Carol left for us yesterday!  A big bowlful of red and green lettuces and arugula and all manner of beautiful bounty from her garden.  We ate a huge salad last night and will have another for lunch today. Fabulous!

By Beatrix Potter

Then we may take a page out of The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies by Beatrix Potter: The Flopsy Bunnies simply stuffed themselves with lettuces. By degrees, one after another, they were overcome with slumber, and lay down in the mown grass.

Doesn’t that sound like a lovely afternoon?  Factoring in, of course, that these old bunnies don’t flop and lay down on the grass so readily anymore — but a nice dozy after-lunch in the sunshine sounds pretty tempting, no matter how it’s taken!

Characterizing Oysterville… Again!

Tuesday, May 26th, 2020

During these Spring months of sheltering, I’ve been thinking, or rather-rethinking, how I characterize Oysterville.  Not a village — it’s not even close to self-sustaining, even in a limited go-to-the-corner store sense, and we have far too few residents to meet traditional requirements (500-to 2500) as suggested by National Geographic.

A hamlet, then.  Defined as  “a small settlement, with a small population which is usually under 100, in a rural area … typically unincorporated…”  I’ve long advocated the hamlet designation.  But it’s the “rural” part that confounds me a bit.  Not that we are urban or suburban… but it’s our lifestyle these days that doesn’t really fit my mental grasp of “rural.”

My ruminating has been prompted by a book recently suggested to me by my friend Alan Griener who lives in Switzerland — the rural life by Verlyn Klinkenborg.  I think I’m in love — with the book and the author (who is but four years older than my son.)  His writing reminds me of Thoreau and E.B. White and Aldo Leopold, perhaps all rolled into one. .

The book takes the reader, month by month, through the daily life on the author’s small farm in upstate New York where he raises horses and cows and bees and grows hay and fruit trees and vegetables.  You accompany him on his summer trips  through the midwest with its farms and ranches on a completely different scale.  You’ll  attend a small town Fourth of July parade (much like ours in Ocean Park) and maybe you’ll relate to sipping root beer and listening to the radio in an air-conditioned pickup on a hot summer night — certainly not here, but somewhere, long ago.

H.A.Espy Children on Danny, 1924

Or, if you’re like me, you’ll begin to re-think whether we live a “rural” life or if that was a few generations back.  When my mother was a girl and her father was a dairy farmer with some 50 head of cattle and 10 to 15 horses (work horses, a horse for each family member, the horses for Mama’s phaeton, etc.), Oysterville was indeed, rural.  Every family had horses and cows and gardens and, of course, chickens and maybe pigs and goats.  Not like now when many of us have none of the above.  Or maybe only one.  Like chickens.

So, is Oysterville still rural?  Is it “the new rural?”  Or is there another designation entirely?  I hesitate to think what it might be.


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Connecting the dots — at last!

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

John Peter Paul, 1827 – 1909

Yesterday, I finally had a face-to-face encounter with a man I’ve greatly admired for many years.  Never mind that he lived and died way before my time.  He’s the horticulturist who, in 1869, was the first to cultivate wild cranberries here on the Peninsula.  He’s the master carpenter who built the Oysterville Courthouse and the two-story Oysterville School in 1875.  He’s the farmer who bought John Crellin’s DLC plus an adjoining 320 acres and engaged in stock-raising.  And, he’s the man who platted, laid out town lots, founded, and named Nahcotta.

He was John Peter Paul.  During the last forty years, I’ve read about him, written about him, and admired his industriousness and his ability to successfully turn his hand to whatever interested him or was needed by the community.  But, until yesterday, I had no idea what this man looked like.

Then, as I was thumbing through Volume II of History of Washington, The Evergreen State, From Early Dawn to Daylight with Portraits and Biographies (great title!) edited by Julian Hawthorn (Nathaniel’s son) and published in New York by the American Historical Publishing Co., 1893 — whew!! — I happened to run into John P. Paul.   He was a handsome fellow, indeed!

Oysterville School 1875-1907

He was born in Ohio on August 10, 1828 (which made him two years younger than R.H. Espy, my great-grandfather.)  He attended public schools until he was sixteen and then went to Cincinnati where he learned the carpenter’s trade.  He subsequently worked in Lexington,Kentucky and in Nashville, Tennesee before deciding, in 1853 to investigate the comparatively unknown region beyond the Rockies.

After mining in Nevada City and Placerville (then called Hang Town), California, he followed that trade in a number of locations between California and British Columbia until 1867.  That year he arrived in Knappton (then called Cementville) on the Columbia River.  There he stayed for two years before moving to the North Beach Peninsula where he lived in the Nahcotta area and, later, in Oysterville.  In 1882 he married Mary L. Andrews of California.

Hawthorne concludes his biography of John Peter Paul with these remarks:  The life of our subject has been one of great activity and frequent changes.  Blessed with a rugged constitution,he is still hearty and vigorous, and is enjoying all the comforts  of a happy home with his good wife, surrounded by many friends, and possessing the respect and esteem of all who know him.

Pacific County Courthouse, Oysterville (1875-1893)

On the chance that he was buried locally, I looked him up in the Ocean Park Cemetery Find-a-Grave site and, wouldn’t you know!  There was his picture, taken directly from Hawthorne’s book!  Apparently, I could have met John Peter face-to-face long ago.  His gravestone has him born in 1827, a year earlier than Hawthorne’s biography reports, but hardly important in the great scheme of things.  He died in 1909.

All-in-all, I am left wondering who else I can “meet” by taking the time and expending a little due-diligence!


Paul, Me, and Oysters Three!

Tuesday, August 20th, 2019

Paul Brent

Artist Paul Brent and I have a special relationship.  It has to do with oysters.  But not in the way you might think.  It has nothing to do with eating oysters and certainly nothing to do with growing oysters or even gathering them.  It has more to do with their shells.

As I’ve written now and then,  for 160+ years Oysterville’s economy has been based upon three different varieties of oysters.  The pioneers here made their living by shipping Native oysters (Ostrea lurida) to gold-rich San Francisco in the 1850s and ’60s.  By the turn of the century, when those little Natives were depleted to the extent that they were no longer economically viable, the oystermen began importing oyster seed from Chesapeake Bay.

By Paul Brent

Those young Easterns (Crassostrea virginica) thrived and reached harvestable size, but they did not propagate well in the cold Willapa Bay waters.  However, the growers continued importing them, though prices for the little oysters were high and freight costs exorbitant.  The death knell for Easterns here came in the summer of 1919 when an unexplained environmental event in the Bay destroyed virtually all of the oysters.

Enter Trevor Kindaid, a marine biologist from the University of Washington, who brought students here to experiment with imported seed of the Japanese oyster (Crassastreaa gigas). They thrived (but, for years, did not propagate consistently) in our bay.  Each case of seed (baby oysters attached to pieces of old oyster shell) could produce 150 gallons of fresh oyster meat and, in the first years, oysters matured to marketable size within 18 months. Though the onset of World War II put a temporary halt to imports of seed cases from Japan, oyster growers managed to maintain production until 1948 when seed imports resumed.  Today, of course, it’s a whole new ballgame what with hatcheries and “designer” oysters and triploids and I don’t know what all.

Painting by Paul Brent

About the time I met Paul (at an early Art Walk at the Port of Ilwaco) I was teaching a class on Oysterville history and I was especially interested in our economy and development as it paralleled the various decades of oyster production in Willapa Bay.  As visual aids,  I had examples of Native oyster shells (tiny!) and Japanese shells (huge!) but none of an Eastern (medium sized, but a bit different in thickness).  Somehow Paul and I got to talking about that.  “There are lots of ‘Easterns’ in Florida!  When I go home, I’ll send you some shells.”  And he did.

Yesterday, he sent me more oyster shells – of the photo variety, through email —  paintings, inspired he said, from something he saw during the recent Music in the Gardens Tour.  I love these paintings!!  Even more than I love oysters!  Thank you Paul.  I’m so glad you and Lana Jane now have homes on both coasts and that our friendship has transcended oysters!

Havetos and Gettos

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2019

Sydney in Oysterville, 1939

When I was a young girl, I hadn’t heard of “the power of positive thinking” or of “the cup being half full.”  My life was simply a matter of havetos (as in you have to go to the dentist and get your braces tightened or you have to clean up your room)  and gettos (as in you get to go outside and play until dinnertime or you get to go see the new “Road” picture with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby.)

It seems to me that most of the gettos were connected to ifyous.  If you put away your toys you get to listen to “Let’s Pretend” on the radio.  The havetos, of course, were decided upon by forces beyond your control like your parents, or by circumstances like getting sick.  And they were really serious like having to stay in bed or go to the doctor.  But, as I remember, my life was mostly gettos.  Thank goodness!

I didn’t realize until long after I was grown that not all of my playmates had as many gettos as I did.  For me, for instance, school was a getto.  The only haveto I associated with it was having to eat some breakfast before I left the house.  That always left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach and as soon as I went away to college, I gave up eating first thing in the morning.  (Ever since, breakfast is a getto if I can wait a few hours for it.)

I was amazed when I learned that some of my friends looked upon school as a haveto.   They thought of visiting the relatives as a haveto, also.  And, even of going to camp as a haveto!  They were the Eeyores among my friends.  I tried to stick with the Poohs and Piglets.

I remember hearing some older people made dire predictions and ominous statements – “when you grow up, you’ll realize…” or “enjoy being young while you can…”  I knew even then that they were referring to the grim realities and responsibilities of life as an adult when it would be all havetos and very few gettos.  But, I hadn’t heard of “making lemons out of lemonade” back then, either.

I’m happy to report that my life is still more gettos than havetos.  The number of doctor’s appointments are creeping up, of course, and housework and gardening definitely fall into a gray area… So far, though, the gettos are way out in front.  

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