OYSTERVILLE — Ernie Soule was just eight years old when he began clamming on the bay. It was 1959 and he says “I just liked hanging around the hermits.”
“There was Big Wild Bill over on the Naselle. He picked fern to survive. He’d been a logger – a high climber – and he fell and broke his neck in 13 places. Had a little cup that he put the pieces of bone in; they kept working their way out of his neck.”
Ernie will be talking at the Oysterville Schoolhouse Lecture Series tomorrow from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., telling stories about growing up on the Peninsula in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
“It was a play land here for a kid in those days,” he says, “a whole different world. Now there’s not much chance to be creative — too much population and half the stuff we did would be illegal today.”
He was referring to stripping an old Model A down to the chassis and transforming it into a dune buggy. “The dunes out where Surfside is now were the best. We spent hours out there!”
Ernie fairly lights up as he talks about discarded bedframes that were turned into go-carts and how he learned to make something out of nothing. They were skills that carried him right into adulthood. “The house Bonnie and I still live in was made from a little of this and a little of that!”
“I have a few of the old oyster seed boxes I might bring,” he says. “We made everything out of them when I was a kid. They were good for forts and shelving and were used to shingle a number of houses, too.”
Hosted by the Oysterville Community Club, the lectures take place every other Thursday and are open to the public free of charge. Voluntary donations go toward maintenance of the historic schoolhouse.