|The Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum||
The world-famous "WASHERST" sign sits high above Dickinson Lake in historic Washerst, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of America's greatest poet, Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request). The sign was, of course, the inspiration for the "HOLLYWOOD" sign.
From Emerson Nettles:
UNESCO's City of Literature program is part of the wider Creative Cities Network, and we are pleased as punch to report that Washerst, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of America’s greatest poet, Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson’s third cousin, twice removed – at her request) has been selected as a City of Literature. Criteria for the program are listed HERE.
Like Amherst is pronounced “AM-erst,” Washerst is pronounced without the “h,” WAS-erst, and if you’ve ever visited, then you, too, can say “I WAS in WASherst” – and if ever there was a City of Literature, then it is Washerst.
1. First and foremost, Washerst is the birthplace of Emmett Lee Dickinson, America’s greatest poet.
2. Washerst is the home of the world’s Poetry Hall of Fame. You can visit the Hall of Fame HERE.
Below left: The only extant likeness of America's greatest poet, Emmett Lee Dickinson. Below right: The Poetry Hall of Fame.
3. Washerst was also the home of what is referred to as Albert “Al” Gonquin’s Buffet Booth – a group of Washerst writers, poets, ventriloquists, jesters, mimics and mimes, who would crowd into a booth for lunch each day in the Walnut Room of the Wastoria Motel. Members of the Buffet Booth and "The Counter Culture,” as they dubbed themselves (since many of the booth’s overflow would eat at the diner’s counter) engaged in banter, chit chat, prattle, palaver, and gossip – much of which would make it into daily tabloid papers across the country.
4. Many literary grave sites are located in the Washerst Cemetery of the Lettered and Literate, including Libby “Mad Libs” Wâllopkałuża, the creator of “Mad Libs” books; Edison Everett Spine, the originator of book spine poetry; and Anne Thology, a key figure in the “publish or perish” wars in the world of academia (information about Anne Thology and the cut-throat "publish or perish" world of academia is HERE).
Below left: The Wastoria Motel, site of Al Gonquin’s Buffet Booth, a group of Washerst writers, poets, ventriloquists, jesters, mimics and mimes, who would crowd into a booth for lunch each day in the motel's Walnut Room Diner. Below right: The Washerst Cemetery of the Lettered and Literate.
5. Countless books have been set in Washerst, including Charles Duckins’ A Tale of One City, S. Fitzgerald Scott’s The Good Goolsby, Leo Toystol’s Corn and Peas, and Hardy Thomas’ Tess of d'Uber Drivers.
6. There are countless cafés and pubs in Washerst for want-to-be writers. For example, the city has the highest concentration of Subways to wordsmiths than any other city in the United States.
7. One of the top publishing houses in the country, Ballard Ear Publishing, is located in the heart of historic Washerst on Dickinson Boulevard. Ballad Ear focuses on works that were in some way influenced by the life and work of Emmett Lee Dickinson. Many examples are HERE.
8. The world’s largest Festival of the Dollar-Bin Used Paperback Books and Carnival of Classics occurs each July on the weekend before the city’s annual Moss & Hornwort Jubilee (which holds the honor as the Guiness Book of World's Records' longest running annual civic event, held every year in Washerst since 1802).
9. Washerst is synonymous with “literature.”
10. The core identity of Washerst is that of a City of Literature -- and that is embodied by the Emmett Lee Dickinson Applied Research & Education Center, located on Washerst's Municipal Pier on beautiful Dickinson Lake. The ELDAREC is the premier research center in the world dedicated to the life and work of Emmett Lee Dickinson.
Below: The Emmett Lee Dickinson Applied Research & Education Center, the world's largest cultural and academic center dedicated to the life and work of Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request).
From Dorothy Dawe, chair of the Dickinson Organization of Poetry Enthusiasts:
We at DOPE and the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum are pleased as punch that Washerst, PA, the birthplace of Emmett Lee Dickinson (Emily Dickinson's third cousin, twice removed -- at her request), was named by The New York Times as one of 52 places to visit in 2020!
The world-renowned Washerst Dry Cleaning Academy, the city’s premier post-graduate training center in the laundry sciences, will re-open later this year after a billion-dollar renovation, in South Washerst, a longtime industrial neighborhood turned urban hot spot.
For outdoor enthusiasts, the magnificent Dickinson Lake offers hours of lazy rafting, a rarity within an American city.
For more on what Washest has to offer, click HERE and HERE.
Below: Some of the world-wide press coverage of the calamity in Washerst, PA.
Of course, the loss of countless priceless and irreplaceable artifacts associated with Emmett Lee Dickinson and his family is devastating, so it will be extremely difficult to rebuild. However, we will continue to post online information and exhibits when we can -- including this February (a.k.a. FeBREWary) when we plan to post another round of Dickinson's poetry related to coffee.
Emmett Lee Dickinson wrote more poems about coffee than any other poet, and we have posted many of his poems in the past, including 2013 (HERE), 2014 (HERE), and 2015 (HERE).
Below: World-renowned OnomatoJava, the best coffee house in Washerst, PA,
which was also lost to the New Year's Eve fire! "Sounds like coffee to me!"
This year's online exhibit of Dickinson's coffee poetry will be dedicated to OnomatoJava, Washerst's coffee house that was lost in the New Year's Eve fire. The coffee house -- whose motto was "Sounds like coffee to me!" -- was decorated from floor to ceiling with famous album covers featuring cups of coffee. Therefore, in addition to Dickinson's poems, we will also post pictures of the now-lost album covers.
So join us throughout the month of FeBREWary 2016 for the "fourth cup" of Dickinson's coffee poetry and for our tribute to OnomatoJava -- "Sounds like coffee to me!" Click HERE.
Below on the left: Emmett Lee Dickinson's poem "Life is coffee we're long for." Below on the right: Dickinson's poem inspired third cousin Emily to write "Life is death we're lengthy at."
Of course, we are devastated by the fact that the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum burned down and for the loss of countless priceless artifacts associated with Dickinson’s life and work. One of the most significant losses was that of the museum’s Great Hall of Wax Figures (sponsored by Yankee Candles) which included life-size wax figures of Dickinson and his family created by Gutson Borglum, who also sculpted Mount Rushmore.
In addition to the momentous loss of historic papers, articles and relics related to America’s greatest poet, the museum has also had to lay-off more than 500 employees at a time when all of the historic downtown area of Washerst has been destroyed by fire.
Or course, we still have our online site which we inaugurated three years ago, so we have a digital archive of our most recent (and some of our most popular) exhibits. When it comes to the “bricks and mortar,” we do plan to rebuild, but how will we respond to this disaster in the short term?
* We will continue to post “Featured Poems of the Week” each Sunday, and we will publish occasional posts on our plog (like a blog, but a plog).
* We will also continue to post other features (“In the News,” “Blackout Poems,” etc.) as they become available.
* Finally, we will share information and updates about the ELD Museum and the Dickinson Organization of Poetry Enthusiasts (DOPE) via Twitter (@the_Dickinson).
We would like to thank the Washerst Volunteer Fire Department for their valiant effort to save the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (which was once above the coin-op Laundromat on Dickinson Boulevard). They fought fearlessly through the night, and although they lost the battle, they certainly gave it their all!
A poetry log for the Emmett Lee Dickinson Museum (above the coin-op Laundromat on Dickinson Boulevard in historic Washerst, Pennsylvania).