Words of Whit


Steve Whitford

Helping hands

January is a month for reflection, and so I’ve decided it’s time you found out who helps make Words of Whit work, and why.

While growing up I paid little notice to the little black-haired girl who lived next door. After all she was five years younger than I, hence just a child. When I was in my junior year of college I happened to run into her while I was visiting my parents. She was now 17, and I noticed the little girl next door was little no longer. After Estella graduated from high school we were married, and four kids and 42 years later we are still a going concern.

Estella has been my constant friend and partner through good times and bad. Back when I thought being a police officer would be a good idea, she was there for me, working as my dispatcher on the graveyard shift or bringing me a new jacket to replace the one that had just been ripped off my back…no questions asked. She was there for me after a wanted felon put two bullets through me and she helped me get over the taking of his life.

As our children grew and money got tight, she got a job and worked off and on for about 10 years. She made $4,000 from some of her creations and she spent the money making one of my dreams come true, taking the whole family to Disneyland.

I finally landed a position with an international wholesale distribution company. In the past I had written for my high school paper and occasionally for my college paper, but it was here that a series of events would propel me into a life of journalism.

On May 20, 1980 Mt. St. Helens erupted. The massive destruction touched many of us in different ways. For me and my fellow colleagues it meant losing two wonderful friends and co-workers. My first offerings in professional journalism were writing their obituaries in the company magazine. This was my first and hopefully last work in that genre, and even back then Estella was there to correct spelling, make suggestions, and also to help with my grief.

I continued writing for the magazine including some photojournalism above Mt. St. Helens, being one of the few who got to fly over the mountain just three weeks after the first eruption. My company liked my work and a few stories later “Words of Whit”was born and became a monthly column.

I retired early at age 53. By this time of life repetitive hand motions had given me inoperable carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands and wrists. My handwriting had deteriorated to the point of being near illegible and typing was entirely out of the question. We sold our Graham home of 27 years and went forth in search of a new place for our retired life.

In January of that year we found a small affordable house with a gorgeous yard and a three car garage in Lakebay, where we have been ever since. After a few years of goofing off, I realized something was absent in my life. I missed the pleasure of stringing words and phrases, and telling stories. Late in life after wearing so many hats, I realized what I always was; a storyteller. So I started telling stories for the KP News.

Which brings us to the present. All the stories I write are my own creations, but Estella’s hands and mind are always there to help out and correct my spelling when necessary. She makes suggestions, helps research stories, and does some of the photography. She proofreads and edits long before the proofreaders reads and the editor edits. Most importantly she helps inspire me to be better than I am, and her hands are the instruments that translate and type my labors of love, so that each month we can tell another story.

Everybody has a story that deserves telling. Let me tell yours.