A bit of "Where's Waldo" action unfolded recently when family and friends of Andrew "Andy" Gallagher helped him celebrate hitting the big five-oh.
His birthday party was based on the entertaining children's books "Where's Waldo," wife Virginia "Ginny" Matthews said, but they called it Where's Andy in Walla Walla. In the children's books, readers try to find the lanky, distinctly dressed Waldo, who's hidden in the pages of his books.
Andy, who teaches English as a second language teacher at the Washington State Penitentiary and is vice president of Walla Walla Choral Society, "is quite good with limericks," Ginny said.
The invitation read in part, "My oh my, oh no, oh no, look who is turning the big 5-0! My oh my, who can it be? Hokey smokes, it's Andy G."
In accompanying photos, Andy was photo-shopped wearing Waldo's trademark red-and-white-striped shirt and ski cap, blue jeans and round glasses in each clue for the guests, Ginny said. She custom-glued together the red and white scarf he wore.
One photo shows Andy/Waldo crossing Second Avenue headed west on Main Street with the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center in the background. Another shot shows him crossing Main Street at First Avenue, headed toward the bank plaza and Mill Creek and with Book & Game Co. behind him.
"If you solve all the riddles and if you're not too tardy, Andy will be thrilled to have you join his birthday party!," the invitation noted.
Since most of their friends were out of town over Thanksgiving weekend and Andy's actual birthday is Nov. 28, they planned the event for Dec. 5. It was based it on their annual family Christmas Eve tradition, a scavenger hunt conducted inside the home for all family members, Ginny said.
"In this game, the kids would solve their first riddle, go to that location and get the next clue, until they got their present. Every person had a different set of clues so that they would run into each other in the house. This may seem a bit extraordinary, but I have a (master's) in linguistics and a Ph.D. in English so wordplay is a fun hobby for me," Andy said.
For the birthday event, each couple began with the first of the Andy-penned limerick clues that took them to five of seven places in town until they discovered where he was. Each couple had a different route so that they wouldn't arrive at the same place simultaneously.
"I created two spreadsheets: one with the routes for every couple, and one with the set of riddles needed in the envelopes for each location. It is very confusing because each envelope contains the riddle to send the players to the next location not that location itself. I had to think of a kind of algebra function of n-1 to know which riddle went in which envelope," Andy said.
They aimed to entertain their guests, remind people of local history and encourage them to support local businesses, Andy said.
One clue read, "It's a place that's famous in Walla Walla, built more than 100 years ago. It's very popular on national holidays, visited by thousands both young and old. It's surrounded by children on Easter, and filled with music on the Fourth of July. It's round with stairs and a nice view, of the pond, the ducks, and the sky." You're right if you surmised the Pioneer Park gazebo.
The last riddle led participants to The Marc at the Marcus Whitman hotel where Andy and Ginny wed in 2004. They rented The Cellar, the lounge's back room, and offered wine and hors d'oeuvres.
"All the local businesses were wonderfully cooperative. The clerks were all great sports and helped us with everything we wanted to do. We also considered other businesses such as Hot Poop and Earthlight but they were both closed that day after 3," Andy said.
"Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed the journey finding ‘Waldo.' It is definitely a birthday to remember," Andy said of the activity that took five hours to compose and players just 30 minutes to play.
Bird dog owners can step up and donate to a fundraiser that fights for a 32-million-acre habitat through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Conservation Reserve Program.
Members of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever are behind the benefit that centers around their love of dogs, a release said.
The Bird Dogs for Habitat Campaign challenges hunters to donate on behalf of their favorite dogs. All donations will be used to fight for improvements to the CRP.
Donations will be matched up to $25,000 through a challenge grant from a Pheasants Forever/Quail Forever member in Montana.
Vote for your favorite bird dog breed through online credit card payments. Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever will accept contributions from donors placed in support of 25 different breeds of bird dogs. Each $1 donated will equate to one vote for that bird dog breed. In other words, a $100 donation would equate to 100 votes for a particular bird dog breed.
When I checked the website recently, votes had been cast for 18 breeds. The German shorthaired pointer led with 380 votes, followed by the Vizsla with 350, the yellow lab with 286, on down to the Italian Spinone and Pudelpointer, both with one vote each. All told 2,122 votes had been cast so far.
Every dollar donated through the campaign will be used during Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever's 2011 efforts to protect and enhance CRP's wildlife legacy. Online, see www.pfstore.org/pfdogsforhabitat.php .
Walla Walla native "Jo" Winn, a volunteer at Fort Walla Walla Museum since the 1970s, shared memories of her girlhood during the Great Depression recently with Paul Franzmann, communications manager.
Jo lived on one of the family's ranches along the border between Washington and Oregon in a home that sported two family/living spaces that were heated with wood stoves.
Her family kicked off the holiday season with a tree-cutting expedition to the Blue Mountains.
"It was an all-day trip then, going just west of Tollgate to my grandmother's property," she recalled. "Granddad and Grandmother bought 160 acres there in about 1900. Grandmother always took her whole family there while Granddad had his sheep in the mountains for the summer. It was a family effort to find just the prettiest and fullest tree, cut it, and bring it home in the back of the truck."
They handcrafted many of the decorations, including stringing popcorn to drape on the tree. "I thought Santa Claus flew through the sky bringing his sleigh and reindeer across the roof and through the door (no fireplace). The stockings were hung and cookies and milk left for his snack. "The stockings always had candy, small toys, and best of all, a real, fresh orange. There was no refrigerated transportation yet, so it was a real treat to get either a fresh orange or a tomato," she said. One day on her mile-long walk to school she met a neighbor boy who one time said Santa Claus didn't exist. "I thought he was terrible for saying something like that, so I threw my lunch box at him. Good thing I missed"
When their income improved, at Christmas Jo's dad bought himself a radio with a huge speaker and ear phones. "His delight was being able to find a Salt Lake City station. I remember that my mother wasn't in favor of the radio. She had hoped for a washing machine."
Once the family completed their Christmas morning, they were expected at their Grandmother's. She hosted her eight grown children and their families for dinner. "The brothers had a continual pinochle game going while the cousins were able to run, play the player piano, or any game they wanted. Grandmother's house and the surrounding area were large enough for any game we wanted to play. She thought children should have fun."
They enjoyed dinner with all the trimmings at a table that could accommodate the adults. A kiddie table was put in the living room. "Many years later, after Grandmother's funeral service, the cousins, all grown and some with families of their own, were still sitting at the kiddie table," Jo said. "Although I don't remember much about the Depression, there was devastating news that banks had closed and no one could reach their savings. Dad had a hired man who had to be paid and Mom finally admitted that she kept $300 sewn into the hem of a drape. From that day on you could always find some money in the drape hems at her house."
Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Contact Annie Charnley Eveland at email@example.com or 526-8313.