Despite its factions and feuds, Oysterville remains a really remarkable community success story. Even its quarrels are encouraging in a way, indicating it is a place that stirs passionate feelings and deep engagement. It would be awful if nobody cared enough to fight over it.
Examples of Oysterville’s strengths, among many, include the recently concluded Oysterville Science Academy, which owes its existence to organizer Diane Buttrell and many volunteer instructors. This amazing program deserves much more attention than we are able to give it. The Peninsula has been exceptionally fortunate to have it.
The Oysterville Regatta, which we reported on earlier this month, is a colorful throwback to the epic oyster-plunger duels in the waters of Shoalwater Bay starting in the 1870s. In its humble way, the village’s little modern regatta is the kind of event that keeps alive the original adventurous spirit of the Pacific Northwest. Tucker Wachsmuth is the main man to thank and congratulate for a race that seems to expand the boundaries of time, providing us with a direct link to Oysterville’s scintillating beginnings.
The Oysterville Vespers celebrations, which wrap up for 2018 this coming Sunday starting at 3 p.m., similarly harken back to a more genteel and gently paced time. Gathering in the simple yet elegant Oysterville Church for music, inspirational sermons and interesting stories about the past, the vespers provide the kind of bond-making between neighbors that is sadly lacking in so much of the nation today. Carol Wachsmuth, Sydney Stevens and dozens of participants get top “Sunday School” marks for perpetuating this fine tradition.
For the season’s final Music Vesper Service, Doug and Joyce Wachsmuth of Portland will sing toe-tapping favorites to the accompaniment of their ukuleles at the historic Oysterville Church on Sunday, Sept. 2. In addition to familiar Hawaiian songs such as “Hukilau” and “Tiny Bubbles,” their repertoire includes “The Banana Boat Song,” “Don’t Worry Be Happy,” “Love Me Tender,” and many more. Doug is Tucker’s brother and, as a further salute to family, Tucker and Carol’s son Charley (also from the Portland area) is scheduled to present the Oysterville Moment.
Leading the service will be popular lay minister Pat McKibbin, who has been a Vesper participant “almost from the beginning.” Buttrell will play the old-fashioned pump organ as accompaniment to the congregational hymn-singing.
Finally (and most controversially), we again take note of the welcome conclusion of Pacific County’s overly long regulatory battle with Oysterville Sea Farms. It is good to see OSF owner Dan Driscoll resume his full range of business. Small-town entrepreneurs have enough challenges without having pointless obstacles thrown in their way.
At the same time, we acknowledge that there are several sides to the OSF conflict. We do not accept the proposition that any of the parties acted out of self-interest or vindictiveness. Willapa Bay engenders strong protective instincts. While protracted litigation is best avoided, County Prosecutor Mark McClain was doing his job in representing the official position of Pacific County in the best way he saw fit. The bottom line still remains what it was when Oysterville was home to the Courthouse 125 years ago — we expect a prosecutor to vigorously pursue criminal cases. Everything else is secondary.
As others have observed when talking about the convoluted past and present of nearby Astoria, Oysterville is awaiting for its own homegrown William Faulkner — a writer capable of capturing the essence of a splendidly complex place. In the meantime, all who live in its vicinity can be entertained by its spectacular successes and dysfunctions.