In many ways, Medora Espy was a typical teenager, similar to many young people today. She went to school, helped care for her siblings, endured occasional quarrels with parents and friends, enjoyed sports, and was interested in boys. Yet in other ways, Medora was exceptional.
The oldest daughter of a dairy farmer elected to the Washington State senate, she was introspective, reliable, and extremely devoted to family, particularly her mother. Whenever Mama and Medora were separated, most often due to school attendance in Portland, political duties in Olympia, or the birth of a brother or sister, their bond was reflected in a continuous stream of letters until a sudden tragedy soon after Medora’s seventeenth birthday.
The contents of the almost daily communiques lend insight into the customs and beliefs of early 1900s rural America, and offer a view of history through the eyes of a child.
Fascinated by the aunt she never knew, Sydney Stevens, the daughter of Medora’s youngest sister Dale, compiled Espy family correspondence and diary entries into Dear Medora: Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years.
The book’s pages are interspersed with numerous photographs and additional background on the time period and household activities.
Noted author Robert Michael Pyle, who penned Wintergreen and Sky Time in Gray’s River, praised the book. “Given just the right context through the elegant words of Sydney Stevens, Medora’s story takes us gently by the hand and heart through a long-gone time, and doesn’t let go. Not since Oysterville itself have we seen a tidewater tale of family and place as affecting as Dear Medora. I wish I’d known this remarkable girl.”
Available in paperback, Dear Medora: Child of Oysterville’s Forgotten Years is 9″ x 10 1/2″, 192 pages, and has a list price of $24.95. It is available at bookstores or can be ordered directly from WSU Press by calling 800-354-7360 or online at wsupress.wsu.edu.