The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Lou Marzeles

It might be time to shake off the curse of Timmerman for good


We have it on excellent authority that the City of Goldendale is still cursed.

We say “still” because many people think the curse of Timmerman, the only person ever to have been hanged in Klickitat County, was fulfilled when most of Goldendale burned to the ground just months after he purportedly issued his edict of loathing for the community.

But sources tell us the curse continues and has yet to be lifted. Judging from some city council meetings of recent months, one could certainly believe such a thing. Some point to either (depending on one’s perspective) the presence of a marijuana retail store in the city or the opposition to the store as indicators of a malignant aura around town. Others say a cursory overview of the conflicted image of the city—dilapidated dwellings that defy human habitation on the same block as lovely, well-tended homes—surely suggests a less-than-beneficent spirit hanging over the town.

The truth is, any municipality can cite any number of issues that demonstrate potential curses. Some say Goldendale’s issues are arguably worse than those of most other cities. But, to hear our reliable source tell it, this town’s days of hexdom can be ended swiftly and forever.

The first step in removing a curse, we’re told, is first to realize it’s there. You can’t get rid of something if you don’t even know you have it. That’s why people who, say, make stupid laws stay stupid. Let’s not get started on that...

So our source tells us we need to acknowledge the Timmerman curse as something that still stands. Then we need to exorcise the curse from the town. This needn’t involve priests or shamans or even politicians. It just needs the community to decide it’s time to live free.

Many of you are wondering if this message is meant seriously and literally. We doubt that the source who brought this matter to our attention believes it to be gospel-true. It’s intended more as a playful metaphor to light a fire under the aspirations—or lack thereof­—of the community. We’ve tried pretty much everything else, it seems. Maybe the curse is actually complacency and intertia, an attitudinal blight. Given how hard it is to overcome these tendencies in this town, perhaps its origins really are supernatural, requiring similar remedies.

Of course that’s what churches and prayers are for. But here, playing again with the notion of meaningful metaphor, we’re talking about a creative way of turning the problem on its head.

Our source sees a “Lift the Timmerman Curse Day” with commensurate observations and celebrations in town, not to the point of parades and signs, perhaps, but with some form of communal commitment to overthrowing lazy complacency. It’s lighting a candle rather than continually cursing the darkness..

Timmerman was hanged with a throng of onlookers in an almost carnival-like setting. Women with parasols, children holding balloons mingled amid the crowd of curious and variously vindictive men. You didn’t get to see a hanging every day around these parts, so you didn’t want to miss the opportunity. According to some reports, some brought snacks, though there was little time for such dalliance in the instant it took for Timmerman to fall to his death.

Does a community take on the karmic consequence of such an event? Who knows? But perhaps our source is right: it could be well worth our while to shake off the ghosts, real or imagined, of the past and start proactively working toward a future based on blessed kindness.


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