Posts Tagged ‘Bow down to Cow Town’

(Photos by JohnsPhotos.net, Michele Murdy, and Megan Somes)

One night, two teams, one dream.

The Coupeville High School basketball squads take the floor Thursday night in their home gym, with La Conner the opponent, and District 1/2 titles (and berths to the state tourney) the goal.

The Wolf girls tip at 5:15, boys at 7:00.

As Coupeville prepares to bring the heat, a go-get-’em from some of their most-fervent fans.

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And yes, we already had library cards.

I grew up in libraries.

My mom was the children’s librarian in Kelso when my sister Sarah and I were younger, and we spent a lot of time in that two-story building stashed on the corner of a street next to the post office.

She got us our first library cards not long after we started walking, which made sense, as she spent her life reading.

Everyone in the family had a story about how if they wanted to find my mom when she was young, they would go searching only to find her every time, stashed away, face in book, lost to the world.

As Sarah and I were growing up, our dad was a carpet cleaner/window washer, and each year the Kelso Library would shut down over the winter holidays and our parents would clean the joint from top to bottom.

While they did that, we got the run of the locked-down library, eating at 2 AM in the librarian’s kitchen — a magical place normally off limits to anyone not an employee — and I got to read piles of Mad Magazine and Sports Illustrated while camped out in a carpet-lined bath tub that sat downstairs in the kid’s section.

This was still a time of card catalogs and before DVDs and other electronic doodads infiltrated a kingdom dominated by the written (and published) word.

Librarians working downstairs, like my mom, used a dumbwaiter to send books upstairs, an old-school touch which still fascinates me.

Even after we moved to Tumwater when I was in the sixth grade, and then Oak Harbor when I was a high school senior (my mom finding new libraries two minutes after each arrival) we continued to go back for the holiday cleaning adventures.

The final trip came in 1990, when the first season of Twin Peaks, the defining TV show of my life, was in reruns.

By that time the Kelso Library had a TV behind the upstairs counter, where the librarians could watch it (Why? Good question…), so, in between hours of reading (and trying to do as little work as possible), I watched an episode unfold in surreal fashion.

Slouched in a chair in the dark of a closed-down library, as an eerie train whistle sounded nearby, staring out on deserted streets which looked a lot like those in the original Twin Peaks, it was one of the great TV experiences of my life.

Normally, when I watched the show at our house out at Cornet Bay, it was followed by me walking up a dark, winding gravel road next to our house to where my sister was babysitting.

As I went up that road, the same type of trees you saw mysteriously swaying on Twin Peaks were moving in the wind all around me.

Then an owl would hoot, and I would curse David Lynch, that twisted, magnificent son of a gun, as every hair on the back of my neck exploded.

Watching the episode in the shuttered-up library was just as creepy in its own way, the image of a maniacally laughing Killer BOB reflected on the window, as the train whistle crawled up my spine.

I haven’t been back to the Kelso Library since that trip, and yet, 27 years later, I can close my eyes and perfectly see every nook and cranny of my home away from home.

I’m sure a trip back there would reveal that it, like my childhood home (which I have seen) are no longer the same. Probably better to let it remain suspended in memory.

That library, and all the others I have lived in, offer deep connections to my late mother, who gave Sarah and I a love of reading and sent us on a writer’s path.

This is all coming to the surface right now, because my second book, Bow Down to Cow Town, is in the process of landing in local libraries.

Any day now the Sno-Isle library system will officially stock two copies of my collection of small town sports stories.

One book is headed to Coupeville, another to Oak Harbor, and they’re “in transit” as of this morning.

They will join Memoirs of an Idiot, which looked up at me from the biography section, sharing shelf space with a book by Nelson Mandela(!), as I strolled through the Coupeville Library yesterday.

The world has changed, certainly.

Computers, DVDs, CDs and other stuff share space with books and magazines at libraries, while card catalogs (and dumbwaiters, probably) are long gone, though Twin Peaks is back(!) and as mystifying as ever.

I know people consume a lot of their reading in non-printed form (this blog, for one), but it’s still special to me to see my book land in a library.

I don’t make any money off the transaction, and who knows how many times it will be checked out. Neither part of that really matters, though.

It’s there, words on paper, a book, and it’s in a library.

My mom isn’t with us anymore, but I know she would be immensely proud of what Sarah (who has somewhere around 237 books in print) and I are accomplishing with our writing.

Libraries are life. It’s nice to be a small part of keeping that alive.


Seriously, my books are in the library system:



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   Your bookshelf isn’t complete without a copy. (Book cover photo by Sylvia Hurlburt)

A little more than three cents a page.

That’s all it costs to own a permanent piece of Coupeville Sports history.

As we head towards the five-year anniversary of this blog, I’m jumping the gun by two months by publishing “Bow Down to Cow Town: Small Town Sports, Big Time Stories.”

It’s 294 pages (in handy 5 x 8 standard paperback book form) of big wins, tough losses and (somewhat) introspective looks at the athletes and coaches who have called Cow Town home from 2012-2017.

All for the low, low price of $9.95 on Amazon (there’s a permanent link on the top right of this blog and another one at the end of this article).

I’m not going to list everyone who appears in the book by name, as it’s a ton.

But there are big appearances from everyone from Jae LeVine to Lathom Kelley, Bob Rea to Kacie Kiel, Willie Smith to Sylvia Arnold and just about everyone else you can think about.

Every word written by me on a computer powered by three hamsters on a treadmill while camped out on the shores of Penn Cove.

Want to help keep me, and Coupeville Sports, going?

Buy a book, heck, buy a couple books.

One for yourself, one for grandma, one for the relatives in Pennsylvania, maybe even one to put under that wobbly table leg to get it to stay steady.

Most important thing? Buy it.

Cause every time you buy a copy, a cow gets its wings … and it’s a little easier for me to pay rent. So, there’s that, too.

To buy my book, pop over to:


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Wolf seniors, back row (l to r) Madeline Strasburg, Monica Vidoni, Julia Myers, Matt Shank, Wynter Thorne, Joel Walstad, Hailey Hammer. Front: Isaac Vargas, Aaron Trumbull, Kacie Kiel, Aaron Curtin. (Vail photo, courtesy Madeline Strasburg)

2015, going out like a boss.

With both of the Coupeville High School basketball teams enjoying their most successful season in years, a big part of the credit goes to the school’s senior class.

Six girls and five boys have two home games left in this hoops season. After that, it’s on the road for the playoffs for the girls and (hopefully) the boys.

The girls’ squad will honor their seniors before a home game against Chimacum Feb. 6, with the boys taking their final bow against Klahowya Feb. 9.

Until then, bask in the glow of a one-time look at the entire bunch together on the court they have owned for the past four years.

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Danny Savalza (left) and Tim Quinn ask you to Bow Down.

   Danny Savalza (left) and Tim Quinn ask you, respectfully, to Bow Down to Cow Town.

It is not the first time, nor probably the last, that I have irritated someone.

In my idiotic exuberance, I have sometimes referred to Coupeville as Cow Town over the past few months.

Now, I understand that there are some who find this disparaging. But I am not one of those people.

I have lived on Whidbey since 1989 and I know that the term has often been used derisively by those who want to make fun of Coupeville.

Poopville is another old favorite.

My reason for using Cow Town is to reclaim the words and turn them from mocking into a celebration.

This is a town built on farming, on cows. And, while economic times have changed the look of the town, why would you not be proud of that?

The Shermans, the Bishops, the Engles — these are the names that made Coupeville what it is. And farming made them what they are.

We should be proud of that heritage.

We are Cow Town, and you will bow down to us.

But, if it troubles enough people (I know it bothers at least some), I can reign myself in … a bit.

Won’t like it (no ma’am), but I’ll abide and retire the phrase.

So, here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to let you, my readers, make the call.

If you’re fine with Bow Down to Cow Town, vote YES.

If you think I’m trading off of old slurs better forgotten, vote NO.

The poll will be open for 48 hours and close at noon Tuesday. You can vote as many times as you like.

Democracy will decide which route I take starting at 12:01 that afternoon.

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