Posts Tagged ‘Springtime in Oysterville’

It went by in a flash…

Sunday, June 20th, 2021

Doncha hate it when you see something online for just a fleeting moment and then you can’t find it again?  That happened to me recently when I was trying to Google something on my cell phone.  Up popped a rather confused collage which seemed to be headed with a misspelling of my name — SYNDEY STEVENS (in big blue letters) — followed by excerpts from my various Oysterville Daybook entries.

Before I could take a good look at the “site” (if that is what it was), it disappeared from the screen and, try as I might, I’ve not been able to find it again.  Disconcerting to say the least.  Is there a dyslexic person posing as me?  Why would someone repost my blogs under a misspelled name?  I’m sure my mother would have told me that imitation (or in this case, mimicry) is the sincerest form of flattery.  Or is it plagiarism?

And, the bigger question is:  what besides the spelling of my name was changed?  As a writer interested in history, I would like to feel that my blogs will “forever” be available from out there in cyberspace as they were written.  Not that I haven’t made mistakes of my own — some of which I’ve managed to correct, but probably not all.  But, I don’t like to think that someone is messing with my words as well as with my name.

I imagine others have had similar experiences.  I commiserate fully!

Speaking of holidays…

Saturday, June 19th, 2021

American Flag in front of The White House in Washington D.C. 

As of yesterday, we (the U.S. of A.) has 11 Federal Holidays!

  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday
  • Presidents Day (Washington’s Birthday)
  • Memorial Day (Decoration Day)
  • Juneteenth
  • 4th of July (Independence Day)
  • Labor Day
  • “Columbus Day” (also observed as Indigenous Peoples Day)
  • Veterans Day (Armistice Day)
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day

“That’s quite a many,” as my mother used to say!  Especially considering that, in her youth, Armistice Day (now Veteran’s Day), Columbus Day, Martin Luther King Day, and Juneteenth did not exist.  The first four to be created (in 1870) were New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Christmas Day, and Independence Day.  We’ve been adding one or two every few decades ever since.

In Ancient Rome Every Other Day Was An Official Holiday

Still, it is reassuring to know that we don’t yet approach the number of holidays that ancient Rome celebrated — more than half of their calendar year, according to some scholars!  One wonders how they got on with the business at hand…  Oh!  That’s right, they didn’t.  Rome fell in 476 AD.  They lasted from the 8th century BC to the 5th century AD — or about 1,000 years.

Lest you worry, it looks like we may have a few holidays and a few centuries to go.



Never mind the calendar — IT’S SUMMER!

Monday, June 14th, 2021
The Heckes Place, 1920s

The Heces Boarding House in Oysterville was busy during the summers in the 1930s and ’40s.

It used to be that you could tell it was summertime when “the beach filled up”  — a phrase meant that all the summer homes and boarding houses were full of people who had come for “the season.”  Nowadays, with mobility and telecommuting and year-round tourism such as they are, it’s harder to see that line of demarkation between the seasons.  Lately, I’m finding it’s the recycling centers that give the best clue.

Last Friday I went to our nearest recycling center (Nahcotta) with two tubs full of glass and plastic.  There was still room in the container for glass — barely.  But the plastics container was full to the brim.  At one time I thought Peninsula Sanitation emptied those big containers on Thursday, but maybe not anymore.  Surely by Friday morning there should still have been some space.  But maybe the pick-up day has changed or maybe there are just more recyclers making use of the service.  If that’s the case… hooray!  Or maybe the beach has filled up even though official summer is yet a week away.

August 2, 1949 — Clam Chowder served at Dedication of the Ocean Park Arch

But, no matter the season, it’s not unusual to find all those big bins full to overflowing and I always wonder why Peninsula Sanitation doesn’t have their “transfer” times posted.  Or I guess that’s what you call the clean-out process.  The Nahcotta center and seven others throughout south county are listed as “Drop Box Recycling” centers on the Peninsula Sanitation Website, but no times are given.

This morning about 9:00 I tried again and found that today was the day!  All drop boxes were closed as the bins were being unloaded into huge black plastic bags and readied for transport.  It was an errand morning for me — returning library books, picking up prescriptions, taking Nyel to OBH for some lab work — so I swung by the Long Beach Recycle Center and found it ready and waiting for my plastics — and anything else, for that matter!  Yay!  Had I known, I’d  have brought the cans and cardboard, as well.

So… I wonder if Monday is always clean-out day now.  And is it in addition to Thursday?  And are there other days?  I should’ve asked…


It might be my mother’s fault…

Sunday, June 13th, 2021

I do not like taking naps.  Period.  Apparently, I never have.  My mother quit trying to put me down for an afternoon nap about the time I began walking.  She said that I always woke up so cranky that it wasn’t worth it.  And I’m here to tell you, 85 years later, some things don’t change.  Although…

I still do not find that naps are “refreshing” and, on the rare occasion that I do have an afternoon liedown, I wake up feeling mean and grouchy.  I think it must be some deep-seated belief in the adage that Marta’s father often espoused:  “You’ll sleep a long time when you’re dead.”  Of course, he wasn’t talking about naps; he was talking about staying up late rather than going to bed “with the chickens” as I have always done, even before I became a chicken farmer’s wife.  I say it the Ben Franklin way: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  (Healthy, probably.  but I’m waiting for the last two.)  Bottom line:  if I do nap, I always feel I’ve missed out on something or have wasted time that could have been used to better advantage.

All this is by way of preface to telling of my yesterday’s nap experience.  From Monday through Thursday, we had had a houseful — my son Charlie plus four cousins.  They were absolutely easy “guests” and I enjoyed every minute with them.  But, yesterday morning as we hugged Charlie goodbye, I realized that I was a tad tired.  So after lunch, I decided to take a nap.

Three hours later, Nyel woke me for dinner and I found, for the first time ever, that I didn’t feel grouchy at all.  On the other hand, I didn’t feel refreshed.  I turned down dinner, puttered around a little, watched two episodes of Jeopardy that Nyel had recorded from last week, and was in bed as usual with the chickens.  Maybe I’ve finally grown up enough to accept naps gracefully.  My mother would be so pleased!


Bonding Across The Generations

Friday, June 11th, 2021

Maddie and Sydney, First Cousins twice removed

It was Maddie’s third visit to Oysterville but the first that was a prolonged (four days and nights) stay.  On each of her previous visits, she had been all eyes and ears –looking, looking, looking and asking myriad questions about Oysterville.  Between visits she has read my first ghost book and parts of Willard’s Oysterville, Roads to Grandpa’s Village.  

This time she came prepared to work on her “Oysterville Project” — an extensive multimedia look at Oysterville through the generations of our Espy family.  She had written up her proposed topic for school, it was accepted, and she asked if I would allow her to interview me — both in the “traditional” way and for the video camera.  I was thrilled.  Imagine being interviewed by the three-times-great-granddaughter of your own great-grandfather!

Maddie and Julia, June 10, 2021

She began our interviews by saying that she was especially interested in R.H. Espy, founder of Oysterville, and his much-younger wife Julia, as well as their eight children.  She had questions prepared — “Did R.H. and Julia absolutely ADORE their children?” and “Is it true that Julia taught them all at home for their early years?”  We talked about child-rearing in the 1800s — the differences between then and now — and about the senior Espy’s emphasis on education.  Maddie was interested in the hardships Julia faced here in isolated Oysterville and expressed sadness that this great-great-great-grandmother had died so young (49) before all her children were even grown and before most of her grandchildren had been born.

We talked and laughed and lamented.  Occasionally one of us would get up and grab a photo from mantle or wall to see exactly who we were discussing.  We spent several hours on two separate days on Maddie’s Oysterville Project.  I loved every minute!  Later, Alex took his kids up to the cemetery and sent me a picture of “Maddie and Julie.”  It made me a bit teary and so very pleased, all at the same time.  I so hope that Maddie’s interest will continue and that she, in her turn, will answer the questions of future Espy generations!

Remembering Pam Dorrance

Saturday, June 5th, 2021

Last evening at our “Friday Night Gathering” (or “Salon” as Sturges often says) we spent time remembering our friend Pam.  We began by reading our most recent communication from Sturges, sent on June 2nd:

Our family is gathered with Pam at Swedish First Hill. Pam has fought a courageous fight these past three [weeks] but sadly we have lost.  She is fully sedated and unaware of what is happening. Late this afternoon we must take her off life support because there are no further options. It is terribly sad for all of us. She is a special person and the love of my life for over 60 years.
Our love to you both and all our friends from the “salon”, Sturges

Pam Dorrance, 2018

It was only a month or five weeks ago that she had been here with us, enjoying a glass of wine and taking over the hostess duties with a vengeance.  She was so tiny, yet so mighty and, when she insisted, “No, I can do it!” there was no arguing.

“She would never let me pass an appetizer,” Sue said.  “No matter how big the tray, she’d insist on doing it herself.”

“Yes,” I remembered, “with her big smile and that determined look in her eye, daring you to argue!”

“She always took special pains to take care of ME!” Nyel said.  “There she was, with her cane and a bit bent over, moving with difficulty.  I knew I was more mobile, could lift more, and do more —  even from my wheelchair — but if Pam wanted to do it… she did it!  And with a smile.”

I remembered the first time she showed me her fabulous garden and mentioned how much she enjoyed the deer who visited.  “We always put a saltlick out for them in winter,” she said.  “And I love having the rabbits come through, too.”

“She loved every living thing,” Cyndy added.  “She wouldn’t hurt a fly.  Literally!  Or a spider.  They all had her respect and protection.”

Vicki spoke of her generosity.  “I inadvertently got put in charge of the garden at the Lamp Camp in Long Beach when we were staying there a few years back.  I mentioned it to Pam one Friday night and the next thing I knew, she was bringing me all these wonderful starts from her garden!”

The stories continued.  The box of kleenex was passed around.  We spoke of Sturges and of their four daughters. Silently, we willed Oysterville’s spring breezes to carry them our love and sustaining thoughts.  It was one of our most difficult of Friday Nights… yet how fortunate we were to be able to gather together in friendship and remembrance.

We had to trash 1991.

Tuesday, June 1st, 2021

Sad to say, 1991 is history, scrapbook-wise.  That hot water heater disaster of 2002 was hardest on this particular volume — perhaps because, atypically for my scrapbooks,  it had lots of news clippings in it.  That printers’ ink and newsprint didn’t survive the soaking – some pages (actually, many) even molded somwhere along the way.  My usual picture-filled scrapbooks seemed to do much better.

In the news that year — a threatened statewide teacher strike during which about half of the OBSD teachers joined in a march on Olympia.  Another biggee was that Gordon’s cousin, Jeanne Gammel, was fired as Manager of the Port of Peninsula by a 10-man Board of Directors and the  next week, Daughter of the Pioneer Charlotte Davis wrote, “Where were the women?” in Jeanne’s defense.  Jeanne’s “crime” seemed to be too much interest in having the Port help local communities!  (Wow!  How I wish Jeanne were still around to see how they’ve come a full 180º since then!)

There was one real treasure, however, tucked in the back of the scrapbook.  A “Happy Birthday from the 1-2-3 Class of 1990-91” to me!  Each page of the little booklet contained a birthday wish and drawing from one of my students.  “My birthday wish to you is…  a dog,” said Parker Hill; “… a million dollars,” said Adam Lindsley; “… a necklace and a bouquet of flowers,” said Lindsay Newell; “… a new pair of purple shoes,” said Marina Koontz; “… it will never rain for you,” said Travis Wentworth; “… a nice vacation,” said Daniel Duffy; “…a trailer,” said Jason Moore; “a plant,” said Carson Kemmer;   “… a new dress,” said Katie Downer;  And on it went.  I loved it then and now, 30 years later, I love it still!

These were the treasures that made teaching the best job EVER!  And, these are the treasures that make downsizing so impossible.

Finding Uncle Al

Saturday, May 29th, 2021

Al Barela c. 2011

We didn’t hear from him at Christmas and he hasn’t been on FaceBook for a couple of years.   Al Barela –friend of 60+ years, artist extraordinaire, professor emeritas, San Jose State University.  Marta and Charlie (and me, too!) have always called him “Uncle Al” though he was wasn’t related — but we all choose to believe he is.

As Nyel and I have begun to think about “downsizing” — or at least of doing a little “estate planning” — I realized that I have five of Al’s paintings.  Four are on our walls; one is in the wings — waiting for a place to snuggle in.  All are large.  All are wonderful.  Some are quite personal.  Neither Charlie nor Mata has room for any of them, though Marta is trying to figure out how to keep one.  Somehow.

“Cyclist” by Al Barela, 1968

So, a few weeks ago during our Sunday evening Family Zoom Meeting, we brainstormed how to find Al (for starters) and, failing that, how to find where his collected works might be or if there is a gallery that has handled his paintings or… or… or. But mostly, we hoped to find Al.  I remembered that he had a nephew who went to Stanford some years (40?) years back but I had no name for him.  We thought Al might still have family in Albequerque which is where he grew up.  And I was pretty sure he was two or threee years older than I which would make him close to 90 so we were trepidatious.

Marta went to work contacting people named Barela on FaceBook.  She found a nephew (a different one) who, eventually,  responded to her very cautiously — protccting Al’s privacy — but giving us enough to indicate that Uncle Al was alive and living in Colorado!  And yesterday, the phone rang and there he was — that beloved, familiar voice!  We talked and talked and talked.

And now Nyel and I are discussing the feasibility of a road trip in the fall…

Flags Flying Again In Oysterville!

Thursday, May 27th, 2021

It’s one of those things that I’m not sure if anyone else notices — the flags in the Oysterville churchyard.  Whether they do or not, I’m sure we notice more than anyone because our house is directly across the street.  As I walk toward the kitchen, I look out our dining room windows right at the flags.  Or, when they aren’t in residence, I look at the empty flagpole.

I believe it was my dad’s idea to put up that flagpole.  Before Oysterville was placed on the National Register of Historic Places and before the Oysterville Restoration Foundation was formed, the now-churchyard was the site of my grandfather’s barn.  Once ORF was formed, the family tore down the barn gifting the property to ORF.  I think Chris Freshley designed the churchyard — so perhaps he, not Dad,  was the one who first suggested the flagpole.

In any event, it seemed natural that my dad — and then Nyel, in his turn — would take care of the flags.  It used to be that they were up year ’round and we would occasionally buy replacements from Jack’s Country Store.  Then the protocol became that as the first big storms start rolling in, the flags were taken down.  Dad, and then Nyel, used to keep them in our back forty for the next season — unles, of course, they were too battered and frayed — in which case they went to the VFW for proper disposal.  (There is a wonderful ceremony that they do annually  — perhaps June 14th on Flag Day.  I’m not sure.).   I think that nowadays ORF replenishes the flags as needed and, since Nyel’s wheelchair days began,  Tucker has taken over the flag duties.

In the Spring, up they go again.  As the weather warms up and the storms abate, I become eager to see them flying again.  I depend on them to tell me what the day will be like — wind from the southwest — stormy; wind from the north — cold;  wind from the east — unseasonably hot or unseasonably cold.  No wind at all — my favorite.  I’m not fond of wind.  But I do love seeing those flags flying in Oysterville!


Why is it so hard, Kilroy?

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

Just back from the Warrenton Run — Staples to return used ink cartridges; Goodwill to deliver a load of “stuff” from the back forty; CostCo to get a couple of food items; Fred Meyers to get other food items.  The first two went well — maybe because we were donating.  The last two, not so much — probably because my expectations are too high.

At CostCo it was The Mask Problem.  As I entered (masked) I saw that there were two “checkers” — one masked, one not.  A man a and his young (8-ish) son (both unmasked) were asked by the unmasked checker if they had had their vaccinations.  “Yes” was the answer and in they went along with the rest of us who were masked.

Inside, most  shoppers were masked but about a third of them wore theirs Kilroy-style with their noses hanging over the edge.  Ditto the employees. What’s with that, anyway?  It irritates me no end — brings out the Cranky Teacher, the Nagging Mom, the Despair of Stupidity in me.  I did my shopping and was out of there in ten minutes flat.  I’m not sure I’ll go back very soon.

At Fred Meyers, the Delivery Woman said there had been three substitutions of food items — Simple Truth brand brown eggs instead of Kroger brown eggs; wheat crackers instead of rice crackers; jumbo pimento stuffed olives instead of regular size garlic stuffed.  We okayed the first one but said “no” to the other two.

We got home and found the crackers and olives had come along with us, anyway.  Nyel called.  “She should have pulled them.  Check your online receipt to see if she took them off your bill.  And, no, we don’t want them back.”  I’m sure we’ll find a happy home for the crackers and olives but I was disappointed, anyway.  It’s probably time to start shopping locally again…

Did I mention that I hate doing errands — most especially shopping… she said in a cranky tone of voice.