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Whistlepunks and Geoducks

Oral Histories from the Pacific Northwest

Ron Strickland

With a new introduction by William Kittredge.

6 × 9 inches. Illustrations. Glossary. 288 pages.

2001. ISBN 978-0-87071-495-5. Paperback, $19.95.

Dusting off his tape recorder for this companion volume to his popular River Pigs and Cayuses, Ron Strickland focuses on Washington, his adopted home. In Whistlepunks and Geoducks, Strickland introduces readers to a remarkable group of storytellers, from old-timers to new arrivals.

In searching for people whose stories would add up to a portrait of the Evergreen State, Strickland discovered a region as alive with folklore as it is with natural beauty. Ranchers and wheat farmers, fishers and loggers, Indians and city folk, saloonkeepers and Prohibition agents, oystermen and hippies, and, naturally, whistlepunks and geoduck hunters all rub elbows on the streets and trails of Strickland's Washington state. The author provides a helpful glossary to local terms and adds an index to names, places and livelihoods. Black and white photographs from both personal and archive collections allow the reader to see as well as hear the storytellers.

In his introduction, William Kittredge notes that part of the joy of listening to these spirited oral histories lies in experiencing the subject's use of work-place lingo. The pickaroon, for example, is a pike pole used to break up log jams, while the long two-person saws are caller misery whips or Swedish fiddles. "We hunger for stories about specific worlds, and the particularities of making a go of things," Kittredge writes. "We search them for clues about how we might make our own efforts succeed."

Member of AAUP