Let’s face it … I owe this column to Loggers Playday.
Me and the folks behind the annual logging show’s T-shirts have had, well, let’s just say “some differences” in the last couple years. I’ve accused them of using the shirt as a misguided patriotic display — see the 2011 “Osama bin Loggin’ ” T-shirt — and even a bully pulpit — after their attempt at “Uncloggin’ ” the parade route in 2012.
I know I’ve lost some fans among die-hard Playday folks. I just called it how I saw it, and I especially took umbrage when Seattle media swooped in and, because of the shirts, got a good laugh at our expense.
Not so this year. The signature burly logger makes an appearance, but he’s pointing squarely at the rich history of the event and the area. The shirt tells folks to “Follow Burlap Pass to Loggers Playday” and an image of David “Burlap” Rabey is inside a cloud atop the scene. It’s a classy tribute to Rabey and reflects that class on Playday at the same time.
The Olympic National Forest pass about 5 miles southwest of Discovery Peak, formerly known as “Windy Pass,” was renamed in honor of Rabey, a former log truck company owner, Playday supporter and avid elk hunter. If renaming the pass was a great way to honor him, this year’s shirt is the cherry on top.
The sad part is that this shirt probably won’t make the nightly news in the Emerald City. It’s not going to mean much to folks outside the area or beyond logging circles spread out around Southwest Washington. I understand that, no matter how untasteful the last few years’ T-shirts may have been, they did garner attention. For that, they were very effective.
I’ve had the conversation with my kids many times. Doing the right thing doesn’t always get recognized, but that’s not why you do it. My guess is the design of this year’s shirt came about simply because it was the right time and place to honor “Burlap” Rabey, not because it was the most marketable choice. There may be a drop-off in media attention, but there will also be a drop-off in snickering from our I-5 corridor cousins.
I say it’s worth it. At least for this year.
Now, if you think I’m excited about this year’s T-shirt, you don’t know the half of it.
True confession: I’ve always had to work at the paper during Loggers Playday. For the last 12 Loggers Playdays, I’ve been in the office for 11 and on vacation in St. Louis for one.
That’s right, I’ve never been to Loggers Playday. Now, after my last couple columns on the T-shirts, that may have been for my own safety. But in reality, my job has always been to put together the front page after the event so the Harbor could wake up the next morning to all the photos and results they could handle.
Obviously, now with our new print schedule, things will be a bit different. We’ll get the winners and some photos up on the website as soon as we can on Saturday night, and then we’ll print more photos and expand our story for Tuesday’s edition. But that means I don’t need to be at the office until after Playday is over.
Now, when the powers that be decided to change our printing schedule, I doubt the plight of the poor city editor and his continual inability to attend Loggers Playday was tops on their list of reasons to make the switch. Let’s just call it an unintended, happy consequence.
Playday is just about the only quintessential Hoquiam thing I haven’t been able to do. I finally get to see the sawdust really fly.
As for my duel with the image of the burly logger … I’m sure we’ll be back at it in the not-too-distant future. And that’s OK. I never tire of writing, and he never tires of getting into trouble.
Either way, for the first time, I’ll see you at Hoquiam’s Loggers Playday tonight.
Dan Jackson, The Daily World’s city editor, can be reached at 537-3929, or by email at email@example.com.