“Give Me Back My Zip”
There are always surprises when the Willapa Hills come to our house – new songs, new arrangements of old favorites, maybe even a new instrument or two. This time, Andrew Emlen, the group’s leader, had even told me, “We’ll have six new songs. One of them is a surprise for you.”
I couldn’t imagine what it might be and I couldn’t have been more pleased when I found out. It was a song by Kerrie McNally, “inspired by something I read in Sydney’s blog,” she said. The song was about the plan to close the Oysterville Post Office and the ridiculous proposal for us patrons to get our mail in “nearby” Bay Center.
What a perfect venue for introducing “Give Me Back My Zip.” The SRO audience, many of whom are regulars at the Oysterville Post Office, loved it. I’m sure it could easily become the Oysterville theme song for 2011/2012! And, besides, it covered all the right bases – Oysterville’s reputation as a “ghost town,” our need for the Post Office as a gathering place, the question of crossing Willapa Bay to get our mail, even the possibility of ‘Occupy Our Post Office.’
The other new songs were super, too. “Butter Butter Butter” by Sunrise Fletcher was about the dairy industry that grew up in the valleys of Wahkiakum County and even featured a mooing cow – well, the moo was here, hand-held by Andrew. For the cow, itself, we gladly used our imaginations. Another of Kerrie’s songs, “Silent Paddles” talked of the early Native Americans in the Wahkiakum area, the Kathlamets, and of their losing battle with the diseases brought by white explorers.
The entire show was about our little corner of the world, the Columbia-Pacific region. The songs spoke of the beauty of this area, the relentless forces of weather and tides, the strength of the people who settled here, and of the ways our traditions are changing. It was a powerful evening, and not unexpectedly, earned the Willapa Hills a standing ovation.
There will be a repeat of the show next Sunday, February 26th at 2:30 p.m. at the Pioneer Church in Cathlamet. We plan on being there!