Other Matters: The Real Winifred Stone

Poodie 2.jpgIf you have read Poodie James, you may remember Winifred Stone. She is the publisher of the newspaper that was important to the development of Poodie’s town by the Columbia River and the agricultural region around it. In the story, she is concerned about Poodie’s persecution by the mayor. Her paper is important in exposing that injustice. Her character is based on a real person and her newspaper on a real publication. This week, National Public Radio‘s StoryCorps was in Wenatchee, Washington, on its mission of capturing tales told by interesting people. In the StoryCorps interview, Wilfred Woods, the publisher son of that publisher, told his father’s story. Yes, father. In the book, I made the publisher a woman. It’s fiction. That sort of thing is allowed.
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The StoryCorps folks recorded Mr Woods in conversation with Harriett Bullitt, another vital figure in North Central Washington. What they didn’t explain in the setup is that in addition to her founding of the famous Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, Ms. Bullitt is a member of a family that pioneered radio and television broadcasting in the Pacific Northwest. She asked Wilfred Woods to talk about his dad, Rufus, who gets a significant portion of the credit for the existence of Grand Coulee Dam. That depression-era achievement made irrigation possible and brought prosperity to an area that was turning to dust.
To hear the conversation as it ran on Northwest Public Radio and see its accompanying slide show, click here.
I am happy to report that Poodie James is still the publisher’s best seller.

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  1. says

    If you’ll bear with me briefly… I left the University of Washington in 1967 to work for the Bullitt family (who were then owners of the KING Broadcasting group of radio/TV stations plus other interests), first as a writer and sub-editor for the gadfly-on-rump original version of Seattle Magazine, and then as a writer/producer of short films for King Screen Productions (documentaries and educational films). Harriet Bullitt was one of the sister doyennes seen only occasionally, but a grand lady indeed, then and now.
    Anyway, your unexpected coverage of a non-jazz story prompts this: those interested in Americana may recall that a different sort of musician, folkmaster Woody Guthrie, did make a major contribution to publicizing the Great Grand Coulee Dam project by writing and singing and then recording a dozen or more related songs, including (I believe) this country’s alternative national anthem, “This Land Is Your Land.”
    The farmlands out there are a marvel these days. All it takes is massive amounts of water… Thanks for the memories.