Spokane's Father Christmas


Spokane’s Father Christmas

Is a swarthy bear of a man

Long hair and unruly beard

An inland Empire John The Baptist

Bare chested Nature Boy wearing only long shorts

And rubber boots in the snow

Everybody knows its Willie Willey

Come roaring through the pines

Down Mount Little Baldy

A string of strange animals tailing him, all of em talking

Just as plain as you or me

A monkey a racoon a skunk a dog

A possum a snake a coyote a kitty

He hops the rails in Hillyard

And rides atop a hopper into Downtown Spokane

Hollering Merry Christmas all the way

He gets off at the Davenport, near the Steam Plant stacks

And meets with lumber unions

The Indians and businessmen and the homeless

And the Women’s club and the churches

 He preaches to those gathered of peace on earth and nature

And the beauty of the oddity in man

He says not to fear bare skin in colder climates

For it can save them just as it saved him

As a sickly boy

He tells them to be not anxious for tomorrow

For tomorrow can worry itself

They all eat a fancy meal in a fancy ballroom

Then they have a parade down Main near the river

Willie n his jalopy camper chariot sleigh

Giving out presents to the poor children

Until the winter afternoon goes dark

Then Willie Willey, Spokane’s Father Christmas

Heads back to his cosmic plot of land west of Hillyard

A ghost in the clear inland Washington sky

Disappearing into the forest

With all the talking animals trailing after him

Just a breath in the frozen air

But he'll be back next year


Note: I first heard about Willie after a Bust It Like a Mule show from a man roughly my dad's age. He came to me after my reading and asked if I had heard of Willie, and told me of the stories he'd heard about him, and how he was one of the first hippies not just to the region, but in general (Willie was born 1884). Always a folk hero buff, I went and looked Willie up, and was not disappointed with what I found. For more on the man himself:

Nostalgia Magazine

The Spokesman

Spokane Historical