Unrest at the Oysterville Cemetery?

Mar 7, 2016 | 1 comment

Oysterville Cemetery, Espy Plot - Drawing by Larry Weathers

Oysterville Cemetery, Espy Plot – Drawing by Larry Weathers

I have it in mind to go up to the cemetery the next time we have a sunny spell. The old Espy gravestones in the pioneer section need some attention; they were looking pretty mossy when last I visited. But I’m a little nervous about going up there!

From Medora's Scrapbook

From Medora’s Scrapbook

I’m pretty sure there has been a bit of tossing and turning among my forebears and I can only hope that there are no visible signs that I might have to resolve. Or, worse yet – how to explain the current political situation to all those staunch Republicans among my forebears? They probably ‘know’ already that I strayed from the family’s party-of-choice long ago, so I don’t think their unrest is anything I should take personally. But how can I explain the current situation to them? It’s one of those “I feel responsible” things, even though I’m not. Not in any direct way, anyhow.

On November 6, 1912, my thirteen-year-old aunt Medora wrote to her mother from boarding school in Portland:    Isn’t it awful that the Democrats have won all over the U.S. Wilson president, Lister governor and 294 Democrats in Congress, 125 Republicans and 16 Progressives. I have been wearing a Bull Moose pin but since the election my pin is put safely away where I shall keep it and show my grandchildren the badge the progressives wore the first year of the Progressive Party.

Somewhere I have that pin and am as proud of it as I am of my grandfather Senator Harry Espy’s campaign posters. When he ran for (and won) the state senate in 1910, he stood for important issues. There was nothing divisive or mean-spirited or bigoted about the things he believed in. In those days, the Grand Old Party still stood for the values that Abraham Lincoln and earliest Republicans had espoused back in the 1850s.

Papa's Platform. 1910

Papa’s Platform. 1910

In my grandfather’s day, Pacific County was almost entirely Republican. He was not yet an old man, though, when this appeared in the November 11, 1932 issue of the Pacific Tribune: The Democratic donkey turned out to be a wild and wicked jackass in this election. Even Pacific County went Democratic for the first time in a million years and the State of Washington turned Democratic even to the extent of defeating the old timers at Olympia . . .

According to Larry Weathers, editor of the Spring 1981 Sou’wester: The election of 1932 was a milestone in county politics, but to be truthful, it was to be another ten years before local residents completely switched their loyalties to the Democratic Party.

I can only hope that my forebears up in the Oysterville Cemetery aren’t holding me personally accountable for recent developments in the GOP. But… maybe I am, somehow. Probably we all are, no matter where our loyalties and affiliations lie. It’s unsettling.

1 Comment

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    My maternal grandfather, his father and his father-in-law were all in the Washington State Legislature at one point or another and I am sure they would all be horrified at the behavior of those the GOP has put up. Before he died in 2002 my father, a lifelong Republican, had become disgusted with GW. Would that Daddy could see this election. Cycle.

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