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Connecting curious minds with uncommon, undeniably Northwest reads

Dear Medora

Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years

Sydney Stevens

Foreword by Willard R. Espy


Lively correspondence, diary entries, photographs, and background narrative enchantingly portray early 20th-century life in an isolated coastal community, Portland boarding school, and an extraordinary bond between a devoted mother and her sensitive young daughter.


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When Medora Espy moved to Oysterville as a toddler in 1902, the quaint, remote village was long past its heyday. The population had dwindled and times were hard. Chores such as milking, stacking wood, gathering eggs, chasing stray cows, and weeding the garden taught children responsibility and self-esteem. Frolicking in the shallow, warm water of Willapa Bay, tramping hay in the loft, and riding horses bareback served as childhood amusements. Occasionally, major events such as a shipwreck, fire, or the escapades of some of the town’s more colorful inhabitants brought a modicum of excitement.

Dependable, devoted, and tender-hearted, Medora was the oldest child of Washington State senator and dairy farmer Harry Albert Espy. At various times throughout her life, she endured long months of separation from her parents, especially her mother. Whether the absence was due to the city birth of a sibling, her father’s political duties in Olympia, or her own school attendance at the Portland Academy, their remarkable bond was reflected in a continuous stream of letters. Practical and sensible, yet full of laughter and heartache, the contents of these almost daily communiqués lend insight into the customs and beliefs of early 20th century rural America, and offer a rare view of history through the eyes of a child.

Sadly, Medora was just 17 and brimming with life when tragedy struck, and the letters came to an end. In Dear Medora, her lively correspondence and diary entries, interspersed with family photographs and additional background on the time period and Espy household, bring her generation and the Oysterville of those forgotten years back into sharp focus.

Illustrations / maps / bibliography / index / 180 pages

Additional information

Weight 1.47 oz
Dimensions 10.5 x 9 in