‘My Washington’

This holiday season, I’m giving thanks for putting the wraps on a book dear to my heart, one that developed from an idea that took root in Devon, England.

Perhaps some of you have heard about the coffee-table book that Jeanne Miller Wood and I have been working on for Washington’s 175th anniversary. “My Washington, Photographs and Reflections” is a full-color hardcover, chock-full of gorgeous Jeanne photos celebrating our community.

The book features pictures of more than 150 area folks from all walks of life, a kaleidoscope of grade school kids, high school students, businessmen and -women, butchers, bakers, but nary a candlestick maker. We couldn’t locate one of those, but we did burn the candle at both ends gathering quotes and setting up photo shoots.

I can shamelessly market this title, published by Reedy Press, because profits from the project are going to buy books for Washington Parents as Teachers, and what amazing work they do.

In “My Washington,” hometown people share their personal insights in anecdotes that appear alongside their profile photographs. But don’t expect a yearbook-like compilation. Instead you’ll see folks set against backdrops they frequent, on a downtown street, in their homes and offices, or engaged in activities they enjoy, shooting a basket at their old grade school, walking on the riverfront trail, fishing at Lions Lake or taking a drive in an antique car.

Expect Jeanne photographs accompanied by heartfelt sentiments.

Over the weekend, someone congratulated me on having written this soon-to-be-published book, which will be out in early February. In actuality, I merely served as the editor.

The people of our community are to be lauded for their input and marvelous writing, for taking time to pause and reflect on this vibrant, hard-working river town we call home. I acted as a sort of music director, arranging and editing their words and phrases each delivered in individual voices sweet, and, oh, so memorable.

The end result is music to my ears.

As the pages began to take shape, Jeanne and I commented that we’ll never see the folks we visited with in quite the same light as we did prior to partnering on this book.

We have learned so much about the “dear hearts and gentle people” who live and work here. I’d like to be credited with those words, but they’re actually from a quote Jackie Krafft gave us for her entry, as she referenced a song that captures the very essence of “My Washington.”

If there was a hitch with this project it was being forced to limit the number of people we featured. We finished with pangs of “I wish we could haves,” that resulted from publisher deadlines and space constraints.

There was little discussion about what the book’s title would be. I adopted it from across the channel. The best ideas come when you’re out and about — and this one zinged into my head when my husband Spark and I were in Brixham, England, a fishing village in Devon we happened onto with a scenic harbor and scallops pulled fresh from the sea.

As we strolled along the harbor walk we noticed an overlarge photo display on the side of a building describing a project an artist/photographer spearheaded to gather local people’s insights about their community.

“This has Jeanne Miller Wood written all over it,” I said to Spark, dragging out my camera to take a picture.

Weeks later, I mentioned the idea in passing to my Book Buzz buddy Dawn, and she encouraged me to suggest it to Jeanne. The rest, as they say, is history.

You’ll read a bit of Washington’s history in the foreward matter of the book, thanks to Marc Houseman. More historic tidbits are offered by others — memories of bygone days from folks who grew up here waxing eloquent about matinees at the Calvin, ice cream sundaes at Schroeder Drug Store, and meeting friends at Buds games.

Also included is a letter from Mayor Sandy Lucy. She not only contributed to the book but also is offering it for presale at Gary R. Lucy Gallery.

You can email me for a copy of “My Washington” or zip by the gallery. We currently have cards with the book’s cover photo on the front, which can be tucked into a Christmas card. Forty dollars plus tax will get you a priceless gift, and provide the gift of literacy.