Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

Delbert Knapp, Esq. – The Old Lamp Lighter

Monday, June 19th, 2023

Delbert Knapp, Esq.

In the case of Tucker’s friend, Del, and the lamps in my house — it’s the lamps which are old, not the lamp lighter!  (And speaking of age… are you old enough to remember that song, “The Old Lamplighter of Long, Long Ago”?)  I can’t help associating Del and that song because he has worked on two of my old lamps to get them alight once more.

Fixed Last Summer

The lamps belonged to my grandparents and were originally gas lamps.  I have no doubt that they were used in the parlor and only for special occasions.  Otherwise, how would they have survived seven children and all the hubbub that went with their growing up years?

The Lamp With The Replicated Globe

Actually, one of the globes did not survive and my mother had a friend in San Francisco duplicate it from the pieces that had been saved.  It was in the 1960s and my mother, at that time, owned The Little Lamp and Shade Shop on College Avenue right on the Berkeley/Oakland border.  She specialized in custom lamps and shades and if she couldn’t make it for you (or in this case for herself), she knew someone who could!

 The Ailing Lamp

I’m not sure when the lamps were converted to electricity, but probably 80 or 85 years ago.  And in that length of time, parts wear out — especially switches.  Del is a genius at electrical (and probably other) stuff.  He spent the better part of two days last summer working on one of the lamps and it has been perfect since then.

Tonight, he tackled the other one — the one with the replicated shade.  One of the switches has not worked for some time, so Del to the rescue!  He was able to fix the pesky switch but needs to replace a light bulb and we didn’t have the right size on hand.  Tomorrow he plans to go to… yep! … Jack’s Country Store to find one small enough for his purposes.


Our Painting Postmaster!

Thursday, June 15th, 2023

Casey Killingsworth, July 12, 2015

Years ago — maybe thirty!! — we had a Singing Postmaster.  Perhaps you remember Casey Killingsworth?  He didn’t sing on the job, necessarily, but for years he and his brothers (and later his kids) were the featured musicians at one of our Vespers services each summer.

Right now we have a Painting Postmaster and, lest the USPS go postal at the news, I’ll just say that, in our little post office. there are a few quiet moments now and then when Tammy Foes can upgrade the lobby a bit.  Well, at least the door into the lobby!

Tammy and Her Magic Paintbrush!

At present, she’s in the middle of an idyllic scene that involves a lighthouse, a body of placid water (not our ocean, for sure) and a double-ender rowboat that is just sitting calmly near the shore.  “I haven’t had time to paint an anchor, yet!” Tammy laughs.  Until that moment it never occurred to me that the boat needed one.

Upon reflection, though, I like it that our new Postmaster is a stickler for details.  Whether it’s an anchor for an imaginary boat or the amount of postage needed on a package, it seems that paying attention to those little items makes all the difference.

Tammy’s Painting

And, of course, it doesn’t hurt a bit that Tammy greets each patron by name (and their dogs, too!), can pick up a conversation where it left off a few days back and worries if she hasn’t seen you a for a few days.  In a village the size of Oysterville — even with postal patrons from Surfside thrown in — our Postmaster is our Chamber of Commerce, our Visitor’s Bureau, and our Dear Abby all at the same time.

And she paints pretty pictures, too!

The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Ink

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

(Please Share This With Your Friends Who Might Like To Know!)

Somehow this blog title sounds like a Nancy Drew mystery by “Carolyn Keene”… but, in reality, it’s a here-and-now lament about two articles that were to be in today’s Chinook Observer.  But weren’t.  Both submitted by me.  Both agreed upon by the editor beforehand.  Both missing.

Joel Underwood, Guitarist, Singer, Storyteller, Historian

Well… I do understand the news business.  I wasn’t a journalism major for nothing.  And I know how space is limited, breaking news often takes precedence and, in general, sh** happens.  Still, I’m upset on behalf of those who were hoping for those stories — hoping that the articles would make the paper “in time.”

First was a reminder about this Sunday’s Music Vespers at the Oysterville Church.  What you need to know: it starts at 3:00 with an “Oysterville Moment” by me, presided over by Pastor Steve Kovach, and featuring the music of Joel Underwood who is here under the auspices of the Peninsula Arts Center in Long Beach.  Flowers will be provided by Todd Wiegardt, Suzanne Knutzen will play the old-fashioned pump organ to accompany the congregational hymn-singing, and Tucker Wachsmuth will oversee the passing of the collection baskets.  Donations go to sponsoring organization, the Oysterville Restoration Foundation for church maintenance. The event is free and open to the public.

Sydney with Ray Hicks, a Legend in his own time!

The second “missing” article was one of my “Saints or Sinners?” stories.  I had hoped that this one would be about a legendary Pacific County character who is having a hard time of it right now and I’d asked that it be printed “out of order.”  I guess that was a mistake resulting in no story at all.  Fingers crossed for next week!


From a book that never came to be…

Tuesday, June 13th, 2023

Willard Espy, circa 1940

I ran across a fat folder of typewritten pages — some apparently in order, some definitely missing, and all with crossed out sentences and margin notes in my Uncle Willard’s handwriting.  I believe that they are part of one (or more) drafts about his growing up years in Oysterville during the teens and twenties of the last century.  His working title: “Past Perfect.”

I’ve read other versions and probably this one, too, and am always saddened that he never finished the book.  More than that, I miss listening to him and my mother and their brother Ed, reminiscing around our library fire.  I wish I could take my own readers back to the 1940s and ’50s with me so we could listen together.  But for now, I’ll quote a few paragraphs from these old, delightful pages and hope you’ll catch some of the magic, too.

Mona at 7 or 8 — 1911

Because my sister Suzita is dead, it is significant to me that at eight she spat into pop’s boot, and was condignly spanked.  Because my sister Mona is dead, it is part of me that at the age of three she slept with her hands over her ears “to keep the dreams out.”  I like Suzita for wearying of her chores:  “Please, God,” she prayed, “send me four legs and a wing.”  I like her for empathizing with the Almighty, whose white robes she considered impractical; “Dear Santa,” she wrote, “please send God a pair of coveralls for Christmas.”

But how am I to find significance in the anecdotes shared by my brother Ed, my sister Dale, and myself, all still very much alive  Ed, before he could walk, crawled daily to the pigpen, where he would press is face against the chicken wire and grunt.  What communication am I to infer from that?

Edwin Espy, 1915

When the Espys took a steamer from Astoria to San Francisco in 1915 to attend the World’s Fair, Ed, then six, watched the exciting bustle on the lower deck, and asked wistfully, “Can’t we pay extra and go steerage?”…

There must be a moral, too, in the absoluteness of Ed’s childhood honesty.  Sent to count the cows, he returned with a total of twenty-four and a half.  “Why not twenty-five?” asked pop.  “Daisy was behind a huckleberry bush,” replied Ed.

Dale, two years eleven months

Dale was a curly-haired, great-eyed, towhead whose hair grew darker as she approached adolescence. As the youngest, and a girl at that, she was subject to sore trials.  Her curls were ordinarily covered by a woolen cap and since all three of us wore overalls or coveralls except on dress-up occasions, there were times when her femininity did not instantly appear.  When a visitor exclaimed, “Three fine little boys!” Dale objected:  “I am not a little boy,” she said; “I am a little girl.”

In fact she was the only little girl in town, and none of the thirteen little boys would demean himself by playing with her in public.  One of our principle diversions was to try to hide where Dale could not find us; in our effort to escape her we even created a private club room in the dead heart of an enormous gorse bush.  But she always managed to hunt us down.

I wonder if present day five and six-year-olds will have as wonderful memories of these days fifty years hence.

Willard, Edwin, Dale in 1916





The Bane of My Existence

Saturday, June 10th, 2023

A Lot of Lawn!

My new lawn-mowing guru has been coming on Saturday afternoons — not my time of choice, necessarily, but “beggars can’t be choosers” as they say.  He does a good job, is reliable and, so far, I’m quite pleased that I found him.

East Hose

However, he does lead directly to “the bane of my existence” (more accurately the bane of my current existence) which is winding up our hoses to get them out of his way.  We have three of them — two very long (maybe 100 ft or so) and one quite short for the south garden.  They are all a pain in the tush for me.  I am definitely NOT a good hose-winder-upper.

North Hose

I can hear Nyel, loud and clear:  “Leave the hoses to the mower man!” but somehow that makes me feel a little guilty and I also think that hauling on those long hoses is good upper body exercise.  Are they neatly coiled and ready for their next use?  Not even close.  But, they’re out of the way for the nonce.

South Garden – More Lawn!

I looked up “bane of my existence” to see if, indeed, that’s what those hoses are. To say that something or someone is “the bane of my existence” means that the person or thing is a constant irritant or source of misery.  Well… sort of.  But I think the next part of the explanation is more to the point in the matter of my hose problem:  As a cliche, “bane of my existence” has lost its edge to a large degree over the years, and today is most often applied to something that may profoundly annoy us but is certainly bearable.

Yep.  Lost its edge.  And haven’t we all?

Toaster Report: Part II

Friday, June 9th, 2023

Boxes for storage or for return?

A message in yesterday’s email said that my new toaster would arrive in the evening and, even though I had managed to toast those bagels perfectly in the oven, I was looking forward to an entirely new wide-slot toasting experience.  “But,” I said to myself, “I don’t think I’ll get rid of this old ToastMaster.  Not yet.”

So, I unplugged it and turned it upside down to open the crumb tray and give it a good clean-up before putting in the back-forty.  (In the back of my mind I could imagine Dell coming to visit Tucker this summer and just happening to mention that he hadn’t fixed an old toaster in quite a while…  )  It was during that little reverie that about a gazillion crumbs fell out of the toaster even before I had opened the crumb tray.

And, you know how inanimate things — or in this case semi-animate things — sometimes speak to you?  Well… I clearly heard that toaster say, “Plug me in!  I feel better now.”  So I did and… voila!  That lovely old toaster is up and running once again and I, of course, am very apologetic for my neglectful housewifery.

One Toaster or Two?

The new toaster arrived and with it, of course, a new dilemma.  Should I trust that the old one has had a reliable resurgence?  And, even if I do, should I keep the new one specifically for bagels and English muffins and as an emergency back-up?   Or should I be sensible and send the new one back?

Hmmm.  I have until July 8th to return the new one (said that email) so maybe I should wait a bit and see if the old ToastMaster is actually cured or is just teasing.  And maybe this “attack of the cheaps” that I’ve been experiencing since the replacement of our west chimney will abate by then.  Go up in smoke, as they say…  You probably can’t really go wrong with two toasters.

Signs and Peonies

Sunday, June 4th, 2023

The First Red Peony

I’m not one for believing in signs and portents…  But maybe, just maybe, there’s a message in our garden’s one red peony.  It’s the only red one.  It’s never bloomed before.  But Nyel was ever hopeful.

He had planted the peonies years ago, babying them along year after year.  Most of the plants didn’t survive and the ones that did all had white buds.  Nyel had hoped for red.  Or at least pink.  Like the ones his grandmother grew back in Idaho.

“They were always in bloom in time to be taken to the cemetery on Decoration Day,” he would tell me.  They were his favorites when he was a kid. And the lilacs, too.

Teresa at the Planter Box said our winters just aren’t cold enough here.  “Put ice cubes around them every morning in winter,” she said, but it seemed too onerous.  Nyel was determined, though, and year by year the plants grew stronger, the stems stood straighter, the buds stayed on the stems long enough to bloom, and Nyel was encouraged — even if they were all white.

Nyel’s Peony

But this year… up came one red peony.  A beauty, too.  Yet, I wanted to scream at it:  “YOU ARE TOO LATE!  NYEL’S NOT HERE ANYMORE!”  But I didn’t.  I chose, instead, to think of this as his “one year anniversary gift” to the garden and me.  Maybe next year there will be two.



Would a sorting hat really help?

Thursday, June 1st, 2023

The clock said 5:25.  The sun was just about to peep over the Willapa Hills to give me my morning kiss and I was… well, I was wishing I had a sorting hat à la Harry Potter.  Not to sort out which of the four Hogwarts Schools I was cut out for, but for a far more practical and grown-up sort of reason.  To sort out my activities for the  day.

It was already promising to be one of those times when there were too many things on my to-do list — all of less than medium desirability to get done and of equal urgency in terms of time.  So, there was nothing for it but to get on with it…

By nine o’clock I was feeling very much accomplished.  1) Two loads of washing done!  2) Lawn sprinklers going full blast and already moved twice.  2) Spent flowers collected from the Espy Cemetery Plot and containers gathered and put away for next Decoration Day.  4) Mail sent; none to collect. 5) Breakfast eaten.  6) Scrapbooks for “fine-tuning” sorted and ready to pursue.”

I was then off to get a tank full of gas — trying to calculate how many trips hither and thither I could make this month at my current (Prius hybrid) rate of 58.8 miles per gallon!!!!  And I was on my way to the optician in Long Beach to have her adjust my glasses which seem to want to slide off my nose.

By then it was ten-tennish and I was tired of it all.  So I did what any sensible Woman-Without-Sorting-Hat would do.  I called my friend Carol and asked if she was up for a coffee at Colleen’s about two o’clock.

I am making no apologies for only getting halfway (or less) through my mental list of “musts” for today.  I made it perfectly clear at the beginning.  I NEED A SORTING HAT!

Or better yet… a magic wand!

Here we go meeting and greeting in May!

Saturday, May 27th, 2023

1964 H.A. Espy Family Reunion

I don’t know whether to celebrate our togetherness or to lament the burgeoning burden of bureaucracy here in our little village of Oysterville.  Time was when families got together on Memorial Day weekend to celebrate the end of winter, the beginning of sunshine and flowers, and just plain getting out of their long underwear for a while.

That was before my time, of course, but we still use our three-day holiday to get together.  Nowadays, the focus is meetings more than families — at least that has become the Saturday tradition on the Memorial Day weekend here in Oysterville. Those meetings began in 1977 or ’78 — soon after Oysterville was declared a National Historic District in 1976.  It was felt that the nuts and bolts of an organization to oversee the restoration of the church could best be worked out by the town at large.  And so the Memorial Day Saturday meetings of the Oysterville Restoration Foundation (ORF) were begun and have continued ever since — albeit by zoom during the Pandemic.

 When electricity came to Oysterville in 1936, our old hand pump became yard art.

When the Water Board was formed in the 1990s, it seemed natural that they, too, should report the year’s activities to their membership on Memorial Day Saturday.  Sometimes they went first (at 9:00 a.m.) and sometimes ORF went first.

And today, we added yet another meeting!  Tucker Wachsmuth held the first ever (that I know of) Annual Memorial Day Meeting of the Oysterville Cemetery Association.  A fitting date, I thought.  Like the other two meetings, it was well attended and the project described for the coming months was of great interest — locating boundaries and burials in the Pioneer Section of the Cemetery.

All-in-all, it was a full morning and another year of Oysterville business got underway!

Kerosene Lamp, Oysterville Church


Not enough hours in the day…

Friday, May 26th, 2023

My “state of the art” electric typewriter on which I wrote a series of social studies texts in the early 1970s.

It seems to me that I get less done as the days go by, even though I have cut out a good number of activities as the years have passed.  First and foremost, I’m retired from teaching.  By my calculations that should give me at least ten hours per day (yes, ten) every weekday and often three or four hours on each of the weekend days.  Plus I wrote a series of K-5 text books subsequently adopted by the State of California to be used by every child K-5 child in public schools.  Admittedly, all his was back in the dark ages before technology made things easier and faster.  (Or does it?)

And I now have help in the garden so I’m not slogging around in the flower beds except for the occasional Slug Patrol or Deer Fence duties.  I don’t have  help in the house — never have had in this house — but I go by my mother’s mantra — “An old place like this (built in 1869) wouldn’t feel like home without a little patina of dust.”

Oysterville Schoolhouse — 100 years old in 2008

Plus I’ve given up any duties with Oysterville organizations — volunteer or otherwise.  And The Community Historian Project has turned a corner and is not based upon 15 weekly half-day classes.  I am hoping that our fledgling plans for a monthly History Forum at the Oysterville School September through May will not require too much of my non-existent time.

So… my question is:  what has become of all those hours in my life.  I seem to be busy all the time — tidying up, writing, researching, tidying some more.  But I fail to see very much actually accomplished.

Christmastime or anytime is rocking chair time these days!

I seem to remember my mother telling me now and then that my eyes were bigger than my stomach — reminding me, of course, to eat up everything on my plate or, more importantly, not to take so much next time.  Maybe there is an expression that relates to getting things done.  Perhaps, “My expectations exceed the realities of time and energy.”  Or, more likely, “Cut yourself some slack, old lady.”  Hmm.  Words to ponder.