After Publication… the Never-Ending Story

Feb 21, 2015 | 0 comments

Oysterville by Willard Espy0002

“Oysterville” by Willard R. Espy

As any published author can tell you, the very first thing that happens after the work (whatever it is) sees the light of day is that the mistakes come leaping out to greet the world. It’s the Murphy’s Law of Publishing.

My redoubtable uncle, Willard Espy, wrote to his editor shortly after Oysterville: Roads to Grandpa’s Village was published: Enclosed is a list of 44 alterations that I would like made for the next printing. Twenty-six are author’s alterations, involving corrections of fact or language. Eighteen are printers’ errors.

A few months later he wrote to a fan: You will find more than one error in OYSTERVILLE. So far I’ve found about eighty, including one where I speak of some Indians poling upstream to the ocean.

Willard never forgave himself that particular error. I heard him agonize over it on more than one occasion. Nor did Clarkson Potter ever correct any of the errors in the book – not even in the paperback edition which was published in 1986. I wish I had asked Willard why.

"North Beach Peninsula's IR&N" page 121

“North Beach Peninsula’s IR&N” Page 121

In the case of my first book for Arcadia Publishing, North Beach Peninsula’s IR&N, I made the unforgivable error of placing the Seaview Depot in Chinook.  How could I have done that and how could all of us proof-readers have missed it?  My face still flames.  The publishers promise to correct that error if ever there is a second printing. I’m not holding my breath. Not about that one or any of the others I’ve made in various publications.

But there is a second and much pleasanter occurrence after each publication and that is hearing ‘more of the story’ from a reader. Not too long ago David Banks of Seattle left a packet of information for me at the Oysterville Store. His cover note said: The picture of Mrs., Osborne’s class on page 12 of your book was taken in the late winter or early spring of 1939. There were four of us 3rd graders (Beverly, Leila, Dobby and myself.)  So that’s who that cute little boy was!

"Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades" Page 12

“Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades” Page 12

The book Mr. Banks refers to is Ocean Park School, The First Seven Decades and the photograph on page 12 was copied from teacher Charlotte Osborne’s scrapbook. It is on the 1937 page and was labeled “1937-38 Ocean Park” by Mrs. Osborne.  Mr. Banks’ third grade classmates were Beverly Trondsen, Leila Dye, and Dobby Wiegardt. The only unknown child in the picture (identified with a ?) sits in Row Two between Louis Stamp and Leila Dye. I am delighted to know, at last, that he is David Banks!

Of course, another question comes to mind. Was the school year 1937 as Mrs. Osborne stated? Or was it, as Mr. Banks remembers, 1939? I need to check with Dobby…


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