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Maybe it’s not too late.

Dec 7, 2021 | 1 comment

Omak Me Yours Tonight – 2nd Edition, 1993

As I read yet another interesting bit of misinformation about my family — this time on a FB posting — I wished I had a nickel for every incorrect piece of news, history, rumor or piece of hearsay that I’ve run across in print. It used to be that “in print” mostly meant in newspapers, magazines and other periodicals, or books by authors who were not fully informed.  (The latter has included me as well as some of my writer-relatives and we usually categorize such errors under “shit happens'”)

Nevertheless… I have not yet learned to be totally philosophical about it.  The latest piece of “new information” came to me this morning and concerned my redoubtable uncle Willard R. Espy and his 1973/1993 book Omak Me Yours Tonight or Ilwaco Million Miles for one of Your Smiles.  The posting was full of praise for the epoch poem subtitled, A Ballard of Washington State, crediting it as the official Washington State poem.   How I wish that were true and, even more, how I wish that had happened in Willard’s lifetime.  He’d have loved it! .

Willard did approach a few of the movers and shakers he knew, among them Slade Gorton, as we were gearing up for Washington’s centennial celebration in 1989, pitching the idea of using Omak in some capacity at that time.  There were no takers and I remember lamenting with him on th9e shortsightedness of the planners in leaving out that aspect of the arts.  In my own opinion, the simple fact that a Native Son had written a poem about our state’s place names AND. that said, a poem about our indigenous people, should have made it a shoe-in.  Besides which, the 24 whimsical illustrations by Roy McKie, are collectors’ items in their own right!  (We have the originals, if you are interested.)

Omak Illustration #22 of #24 by Roy McKie

But, I don’t know that our state has ever been very heavily into the arts — or not the literate arts, at least.  Even the position of Poet Laureate of Washington (unrelated to the possibility of a state poem) was not created by the Washington State Legislature until 2007, eight years after Willard’s death and is accompanied (some years) with a yearly honorarium (now) of $20,000.  On the other hand, the position of Poet Laureate for the United States was first created in 1937 and the current yearly stipend is $35,000.

Well… there you have it!  I wonder if I should collect some of these bits of misinformation and write a book about them.  Maybe it’s not too late to correct the record.  Though, once the errors are out there, can they ever be retracted?  And does anyone really care?

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