The Oyster Shell Telegraph

Nov 23, 2014 | 1 comment


"The Old Fashioned Way" Oysterville, c. 1900

“The Old Fashioned Way” Oysterville, c. 1900

For nearly three months now (since Nyel has been non-ambulatory), we have relied heavily on the Oyster Shell Telegraph for village happenings. I don’t know who coined that phrase for news obtained by word-of-mouth but, as those things go, the system is more reliable than not. Certainly it is a step or two above rumor or gossip – or so we ‘subscribers’ like to think. Especially within Oysterville, itself, where the “old fashioned way” is sometimes the surest method of getting things done.

All Peninsula residents rely heavily on word of mouth, of course. I remember back 20 or 25 years ago when I was still teaching. The Ocean Park School staff was having some high-powered workshop brought in by an agency specializing in disasters. The subject, of course, was tsunamis and the very serious workshop leader asked a very serious question: in the event of a disaster in which all normal communication methods were cut off, how could folks at the North End communicate rapidly with relief workers at the South End?

For half a beat there was silence and then I heard myself say, “Start a rumor.” Naturally, we all thought it was funny; the workshop guru – not so much.

Hampson House, 2006

Hampson House, 2006

The latest Oyster Shell ‘news’ here is that the Hampson House just to our north has sold. It has been on the market for some time – in fact for so long that we haven’t really been keeping track of who has looked, how much the latest asking price is, who has made offers, etc. But yesterday one of our visiting neighbors said there had been a moving van there all day and that one of the current worker-bees in town said that a friend of another neighbor had bought the place.

We felt pretty much out of the loop, I can tell you. Not only is the Hampson House nearer to us than any other, we have had more interaction with the owners than anyone else in town. I was suddenly reminded of that episode in “As Time Goes By” when Jean Hardcastle (played by Judi Dench) finds excuse after excuse to surreptitiously watch the goings-on at the recently sold house next door.

But as much as I admire Dame Judith, I think my approach will be a bit more direct. If their move out of town is not yet complete, I do believe I’ll nip next door for a farewell visit and try to get the straight scoop. My guess is that the Oyster Shell Telegraph is pretty much on the mark once again!

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    My friend Christopher, who was born and raised on the Peninsula and except for two tours in Vietnam, lived no where else, says that you can start a rumor in Ilwaco, get into your car, drive to Ocean Park and the rumor will beat you there. He’s only half joking.


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