Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Walla Walla Bennington!

Clay in Motion horse mug at Fiddlehead at Four Corners

BENNINGTON -- Walla Walla.

* Exotic dish? "I'll have a seared Walla Walla with sweet onions, please."

* Next Harlem Shake? "Yo, dawg, LeBron just did a sick Walla Walla Wiggle!"

* Rebooted Spice Girls? "Tell me what U want, what U Walla Walla want!"

Nooooo. It's Walla Walla! As in Walla Walla, Washington State!

Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery in downtown Bennington, Vermont, received a few boxes from Clay in Motion in Walla Walla, Washington, 2,779 miles away ...

... and two things happened: 1) Art Gallery Dude ripped the boxes open and liked the fun, functional pottery pieces he removed from the packing peanuts and 2) Art Gallery Dude tweeted a crowdsourcing request for all things cool Walla Walla ...

Bennington Lake? Seriously?

Did Benning Wentworth -- the father of Bennington, Vermont -- make it all the way out to the Pacific Northwest? Well, no.

The link @SquirtGG tweeted included a link to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the Walla Walla district (here). The main nugget reads: In the early 1900s, public concern over the frequent flooding of Walla Walla prompted Virgil B. Bennington, then President of the Walla Walla Chamber of Commerce, to lobby the U.S. Congress for flood protection. Development of Mill Creek Dam system was authorized in the 1938 Flood Control Act. The improved Mill Creek channel and off-stream storage reservoir were completed in 1942. In 1992 the reservoir was official named Virgil B. Bennington Lake."

Also mentioned in @SquirtGG's tweet was the dog park (here) although the first item in the comments section makes one's eyes perk up a little ...

Then there's Bacon & Eggs Cafe at 503 East Main Street ...

From Bacon & Eggs Cafe Google+ page

From Bacon & Eggs Cafe Google+ page

The reviews appear to be a little mixed ...

From Bacon & Eggs Cafe Google+ page

Then there was the shout-out to @bluemtnhumane, which leads to this website ...

... which leads to a page of dogs and cats that want your love ...

If you want to adopt Mickey or Mindy or Melody or Frank click HERE.

The brief history of Walla Walla, Washington is this: Lewis and Clark stumbled upon the Walla Walla Valley during their President Jefferson-commissioned expedition from 1804-06. According to Wikipedia, recorded history in Walla Walla began in 1818 when the North West Company built Fort Nez Perce to trade with the Walla Walla people.

Marcus and Narcissa Whitman arrived in 1836 to convert the Walla Walla tribe to Christianity. The Cayuse thought hubby and wife were trying to poison the tribespeople and had the Whitmans killed. They were honored years later with the establishment of Whitman College, so they'll always have that. In 2012, U.S. News & World Report ranked Whitman as the 43rd best liberal arts college in America, which is like being Western Kentucky in football.

Walla Walla is 12.84 square miles, and in 2011 USA Today (here) named it one of the friendliest small towns in America. The 2010 Census showed 31,731 people living in Walla Walla, broken down as 81.6 percent white, 2.7 percent black, 1.3 percent Native, 1.4 percent Asian, 0.3 percent Pacific-Islander and 9.1 percent other races.

Wheat, barley, corn and beans powered Walla Walla's agriculture for decades, but the king and queen crop these days is wine grapes, and there are about 100 vineyards in and around Walla Walla. Oh, and the Walla Walla sweet onion is a federally protected crop -- and Washington's official state veggie.

The Walla Walla Sweets play baseball in the West Coast League, and the Walla Walla Sweets Rollergirls compete at the Walla Walla YMCA.

Walla Walla notables include Hamza Yusuf, Drew Brees, Batman Adam West, Jonathan Wainwright, William O. Douglas and the Brode triplets. Walla Walla's contribution to popular culture is vast with Magic: The Gathering card game (created at Whitman College); the song "Walla Walla" by The Offspring about Walla Walla's penitentiary; Jazz singer Nellie Lutcher's 78-rpm record "Wish I Was in Walla Walla"; Daffy Duck's reference to "Wishy Washy Washing Machine Company of Walla Walla Washington"; a Three Stooges reference to Walla Walla that goes "There's a walla, and there's another walla!"; The PBS show "Arthur" has referenced Walla Walla time and again; and comedian Mike Birbiglia has a bit about his experience in a Walla Walla hotel.

Walla Walla. The town so nice they named it twice. Place of Many Waters. Once called Steptoeville after Col. Edward Steptoe. Walla Walla.

The Neher family is from Walla Walla, too ...

Photo courtesy

Clay in Motion is a family operated pottery studio in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, just south of Walla Walla. Clay in Motion produces 100-plus items of functional high-fire stoneware every year from garden sculptures to cremation urns to dental cuspidors to really cool kitchen wares.

Bob and Corina Neher fell in love with pottery in high school, then fell in love with each other years later and got married the year they opened the studio in 1981. The lead-free stoneware pieces they craft during a 12-step process are fired at 2,200 degrees, and it's safe for the dishwasher, oven and microwave.

Fiddlehead ordered several mugs, covered butter dishes, tumblers, pitchers and 3-piece canister sets. What stood out most were the handwarmers because Art Gallery Dude had never seen such a thing ...

... they're made for righties or lefties. Here's a better look at their function ...

Slide your fingers between mug and flange

Here are the other Clay in Motion pieces at Fiddlehead's website ...

And just because Walla Walla ...