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Luring tourists to Littletown

Vivian Herron, Columnist
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Spring is here, which means tourist season is nearly upon us. The Union editor John Seelmeyer published a thought-provoking column last September about providing local flavor for the pleasure and curiosity of weekend tourists.

He wrote: “People don’t drive up here from Stockton or Fremont so they can see people just like them. Why waste the gas?” I totally agree.



I thought about that article for months and have come up with yet another wonderful idea to add a few shekels to Washington’s economy. Littletown values the tourist dollar, and I’m sure many of our residents would be delighted to play a role in the reality-based play of “As the River Churns.”




Right off the bat, we need a guy in prospector duds and bushy beard with a pack-burro on upper Washington Road. All he has to do is stand in the shade with the burro until he hears an oncoming vehicle, and then start plodding along for about 50 feet, meanwhile waving off the driver and calling out: “No! Ain’ no gold lef’! Awl panned out!” Applicant must be seriously denture-deficient, enjoy the outdoors and supply his own personal burro. Plodding hours are negotiable.

Somewhere on our Main Street, a designated local could stand under a tree and pretend to pick an orange as the cars roll by. Yes, I know oranges don’t grow here, but the flatlanders don’t know that. We could duct-tape a few into the branches of a Chinese locust tree. “Oh looky there, kids, a farmer is harvesting his crop! Neat-o!”

Of course, the Washington Welcoming Committee will make its daily appearance each and every morning – that’s a given. Every small community has its own version of a casual meeting spot of its residents, but for unique, true country flavor, our WWC stands second to none.

Another important role is that of the corporate success who has turned his back on the power job, the penthouse, the electronic toys – given it all up to eat ramen noodles in his plastic-wrap squatter’s cabin way out in the woods.

“The money, cars, investments – why, that was nothing compared to the freedom and serenity of living here in God’s country! I’m so rich in other ways … Why, I found a rusty cookie sheet this very morning! Oh, I can think of a 100 ways to use this treasure in my …” Even I wonder about these guys.

A nice perk would be two or three grizzled old coots lounging around a small campfire in the fire department’s driveway, a-chawin’ and a-swearin’: “Aw hailfar, waither ain’ whut it uster be… ‘member thet blizzerd in Ought Six? Snowed 40 feet in six days; naow thet ‘uz waither!”

“Ay-yep, thass rat, haw haw haw!” – cough/wheeze/hack/spit – “‘N’ haow ’bout that-thar dad-blasted col’ sni-ap back in ’27 ‘n the whole river jist a-froze over fer six mile? Saw a polar b’ar settin’ up a nest, haw haw!”

I might could write a half-hour script for something like this, maybe charge a small admission fee for flatlanders to sit on surrounding bleachers to watch and listen.

I also know for a pure-d fact I can round up 10 or 20 guys in about three minutes who would love nothing better than to hang around a fire, shoot the, uh, breeze, and drink free coffee all day.

For these coveted roles, applicants must speak fluent Gabby Hayesese, wear codger-type clothing, and clearly demonstrate the absence of at least six front teeth. The latter wouldn’t be too much of a stretch around these parts.

There are other country character roles available, at least one of which is probably a dead-ringer for your neighbor … not you, of course, but definitely a neighbor.

Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.


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