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Big Read has big finale

By Steve Tool

Wallowa County Chieftain

Published on February 14, 2017 7:25PM

About 75 people kicked up their heels at the Big Read Finale 1960s dance party at Joseph United Methodist Church Saturday night.

Photo courtesy of Shannon McNerney

About 75 people kicked up their heels at the Big Read Finale 1960s dance party at Joseph United Methodist Church Saturday night.


Fishtrap’s Big Read came to an end Saturday night with a 1960s-style dance at “The Place,” a community center at the United Methodist church in Joseph.

About 75 people attended the event, the culmination of weeks of studying Tim O’Brien’s semi-fictional Vietnam War classic “The Things They Carried.”

The finale featured the local band Black Horse, which included Matt Harshman on guitar and vocals, Mark Mason on drums and Jim Goodman on the bass.

The band played top 1960s-era hits as nearly everyone who attended dressed in period-appropriate clothing while enjoying snacks from the era as well.

Angie Lunde won the costume prize for her vintage prom dress while Judy Wandschneider’s macramé pants created a stir as well.

Fishtrap program manager Mike Midlo called the month-long program a success, even with inclement weather hampering several of the events.

“I think we were all pleased. The book is well-known and to go back to the Vietnam conflict is important. Particularly on how to treat returning soldiers and to examine in depth how our nation gets embroiled in conflicts” he said.

According to Midlo, the book benefited the community through touching those in the county who remember the era well.

“It gave them an opportunity to share stories, interact and meet with others in the community to talk about their experiences,” he said. “A lot of time, 40-50 years has passed since then, and a couple of generations have never really heard about it.”

Midlo added that Katherine Stickroth’s writing group for women also helped its members to share their war experiences on the home front and how it shaped their lives.

Midlo said that the Fishtrap staff were pleasantly surprised that local students showed a keen interest in the book. Some students were even inspired enough to create fine artwork that was displayed at the finale.

The weather caused the cancellation of two events: “America in Vietnam: Understanding Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War” by David Schmitz and “Life after War: Photography and Oral Histories of Coming Home” with Jim Lammasson. The events are tentatively re-scheduled for April and May respectively.

Midlo summed up the Big Read as a good time for all. “We had great turnouts and we gave away a lot of books to students, community and libraries. It was a difficult read because of the subject matter, but the community got really engaged,” he said.



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