Home Again | Conference brings back memories of school at Frances Anderson Center
The popular Write on the Sound (WOTS) writers conference held every fall in Edmonds drew over 250 participants last weekend. It was a marvelous conference. Each year, enrollment closes earlier, as people from New York to California hurry to register before sessions fill.
When I lived east of the mountains, I was aware of the annual conference in Edmonds, my hometown. Eventually, wanting to focus more energy on writing, I decided to attend a WOTS conference, combined with a family visit.
That first year, I didn’t know anyone at the conference. I picked up my registration packet early and made my way to the location of the introductory session, the gymnasium that now is part of the Frances Anderson Center on Main Street. When I was a child, I attended elementary school in that building.
I sat down toward the middle of a row, noting that many people appeared to know one another from previous WOTS conferences. I drifted into recollections of my Edmonds school years, recollections including activities in that gym.
Lost in private memories, I looked back at moments of playing dodge ball there, shooting baskets, running relays and taking ballroom dancing lessons—which, for me, didn’t actually take.
I remembered practicing in the gym with the other eighth-grade song leaders, preparing with the cheerleaders for an afterschool basketball game. I remember one particular song—a dirgelike “E-D-M-O-N-D-S” – repeated ever so slowly, as we crouched with our pompoms pretty much obscuring our faces. After the second or third go-round of the drawn-out E-D-M-O-N-D-S, we’d spring up, shouting, “FIGHT!” We wore white cotton blouses tucked into red cotton skirts our mothers sewed.
Ages later, by contrast, when my own daughter became an eighth-grade cheerleader, we attended an August meeting of mothers and daughters choosing from a catalog offering a range of cheerleader uniforms.
I remember these details about that hot evening: I had injured my back that week and could barely move without gasping. I remember my daughter’s astonished look when I stood. (Oh, Mom, How COULD you?) And I remember my short, impassioned – and unintended – speech asking what sort of values were we instilling in our daughters to be spending $87 for a little pleated skirt and a V-neck sweater?
How could we? And another $8.75 for SOCKS, for Pete’s sake? What were we TEACHING OUR DAUGHTERS? For a moment there was silence. I sat down.
Then somebody moved and somebody seconded that we order the pleated skirts and the V-neck sweaters with the red-and-blue trim and the red-white-and-blue $8.75 socks. After the chorus of aye votes, we all went home. It was a far cry from moms sewing skirts.
The first time I attended WOTS, I sat in the familiar old Edmonds Elementary gym. This year, attending the introductory session with my Edmonds Writing Sisters, I sat in the beautiful Plaza Room above the library.
Thinking back over the years I’ve attended Write on the Sound, I’m grateful to the Edmonds Arts Commission and all who work to make WOTS an outstanding annual writers conference.