Well, I guess this is it. The final time I’ll sit at my computer to write a Twisp column for the Methow Valley News.
Fifteen years! 750 columns! 562,000 words! Not all columns are worth saving, but I have clipped each one, inserted it into a plastic sleeve and saved it in a three-inch binder. Four binders are filled, and most of 2015 has yet to be clipped.
It took hours for me to reread all the columns I wrote in 2001. That binder alone holds a lot of local history. Many of the news subjects of 2001 are no longer with us: Judy Anderson, Miriam Bishop, “Uncle” Lester Boccuzzi, Marian Court, Nancy Dammann, Bob Follis, Marty Groulx, Carolyn Haugen, Marian Madison, Lloyd Marshall, Mary Mattison, Elva Scott and others. I met all these people as I was writing the column. I miss these people, but especially Carolyn and Elva, personal friends from early on. I soldiered on without John Hanron and Sue Misao when they left the paper and the valley, but I still miss them.
Several organizations/places mentioned in 2001 became themes that appeared through the years in this space: the Methow Valley Community Center, the Senior Center and Rummage Room, The Cove, Room One, Twisp Library, Confluence Gallery, the Twisp Valley Grange, Garden Club, Twisp Commons (the park next to the community center was being constructed by volunteers in 2001 and is not to be confused with six houses for sale up the road and improbably called “Twisp Commons”), Methow Recycles (in the planning stages in 2001), and so on. Gone but not forgotten are Partnership for a Sustainable Methow and their harvest dinners, the Community Kitchen and the spooky freezer place on Glover Street.
Tova Bown-Portmann was born in 2001. Audree and Don Scott celebrated their 50th anniversary. The third annual Senior Appreciation Dinner (a Jim Gariano idea) was held in the Senior Center. A group art project for the community was completed at the Fourth of July celebration in the park, following a parade organized by Robin Madison, then owner of Antlers. Gasoline was $1.39 a gallon.
The columns record much of my own history as well. I mentioned the Seattle Mariners all through baseball season that first year, listened to their games on KVLR, and tried to find a loyalty to the team when my heart was still with the Orioles. And KVLR! I listened all the time. Don Ashford, Bill Davie and Keith Wohlford volunteered (worked for free) as DJs.
That first year was the year I found Fangella, my orange cat with the underbite. I drove to the movies in Omak only two times, first to see Castaway and later, the first Harry Potter film (which I slammed then and love now). My favorite personal themes have been in my own back yard — my pets, flowers, birds, snow, snow melt. “Where is the snow?” I asked in March 2001. “When will spring come?” I’m asking today. I loved writing about books, too. And book sales. If I wrote about my family and closest friends (and the library), a little too much, it’s as Don Nelson said in the “How Twisp Are You?” ad — I had to “come up with something in weeks where there isn’t much to work with.”
That “How Twisp Are You” classified ad, intended to find my sequel (I don’t expect to be “replaced”), made me wonder if I would get the job if I were applying now. Qualities sought: “need to be curious, attentive, involved and … a bit nosy … prolific, meet deadlines, treasure accuracy,” etc. And on and on. Did I have these qualities? Sometimes. Often. It’s time for a new voice.
I must point out that if I’m not being replaced, neither am I “retiring.” I “retired” in 1995 after 30 years of teaching. Besides those who know me know I’ll never be a retiring person. My sequel has my good wishes and my contact files if he/she wants them.
Thank you to every one of you who say you have read this column. Thank you to those who say you’ll miss it. (Send tributes to my email! Or to Don! Just kidding.) I look forward to the new person carrying on the tradition of caring for Twisp as much as I do and keeping the record.
In answer to your question, Don, “I’m VERY Twisp.” I am grateful for having had the opportunity to write in this space for so many years.