Opinion

Editor's Column

"The legend of the Freeland wallThe more I see the great wall of Freeland the more I like it. Certainly, at first glance, it is a shocking sight. Strung across the crest of a hill is a great line of newly constructed storage sheds, blocking out thousands of square feet of skyline. But the more you see it the more interesting it looks. All it needs is a better story behind it. Storage sheds are boring and a bit embarrassing as the town's most visible artificial creation. We need a legend to tie the great wall into Freeland's past; a legend good enough that we can sell it to the tourists and make some money.Fortunately, such a legend is not hard to concoct. Freeland has a colorful past, having been founded by a group of utopian socialists proposing free land for everyone. It didn't work out, but it might have had they been better defended. Without protection, too many capitalists were able to sneak into the colony.So one day around 1890 the Freeland socialists decided to defend their community the way the ancient Chinese defended their country.The Freelanders were protected to the east and west by dense forests, but to the north and south were undefended harbors. Invaders could come either from Mutiny Bay or Holmes Harbor and there was no way to stop them. Already there had been some infiltration. A real estate agent had rowed ashore one dark night and nearly succeeded in selling the whole town to Oak Harborites before being discovered and beheaded. The same fate befell an insurance agent who tried to stop everyone from driving their buggies without first paying him an exorbitant fee. But the townsfolk realized they couldn't stop all the infiltrators -- not without the Great Wall of Freeland.The socialists chose a hill dividing Mutiny Bay and Holmes Harbor on which to build their wall. They dedicated their lives to the wall, and clearcut much of the land for the wood needed to build the wall. After years of labor, the wall was finally finished. The whole town climbed to the top of the wall and saw that it was good.For many years lookouts were stationed on top of the wall and rang an enormous bell whenever he spotted an incoming boatload of real estate or insurance agents. The townspeople would race to the wall, armed with pitchforks, muskets and statements showing their net worth as zero, and fight off the invaders.In later years, cannon were added to the wall, like at Fort Casey. The Great Wall of Freeland was never successfully assaulted, and stands to this day as a testament to the determination of the early socialists to defend their way of life.Unfortunately, over time Freeland fell to the capitalists despite the Great Wall. Invaders simply went around the wall, as they had gone around the Great Wall of China centuries before. Most of them came by Washington State Ferries, which the Freeland residents wouldn't fight because it would be like killing their socialist brethren. End of story.To take advantage of this yarn, the Freeland Chamber of Commerce should buy a big bell and a cannon and place them in a rented storage shed in the great wall. Tourists will flock there by the thousands and we'll all get rich. Just as the socialist founders feared. "

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