Capturing our past: Washington needs more John Hughes

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Get out and interview your elders. That’s the message from John Hughes, Washington’s Chief Oral Historian, to the Aberdeen Rotary club. “In the past six months alone, we’ve lost people who played key roles in my books the first and foremost is Booth Gardner.”
The former editor and publisher of the Aberdeen Daily World read a laundry list of Washington icons that have been lost recently “When I say some of these names they won’t mean anything to you, but that just italicizes my point; they should mean something to you. You can really get to know these people who have stories to tell.”
Hughes spoke at the Rotary Log Pavilion yesterday, he said there’s just not enough time in the day for his passion. “So much of this history has slipped through my fingers. John McMeekan, a brother Rotarian, died a week ago. He personified the statue at the entrance to this park. His front yard you’ll remember in Central Park was a veritable logging gear museum. He’s gone, but some of us should have found the time to interview him.” The Daily World’s Citizen of the Year for 2012 said grab a digital recorder or an app on your phone, and start asking questions.

John HugesHughes also invited fellow Rotarians to Olympia, where he and 1.5 others work to chronicle Washington’s history makers. “We’re also doing exhibits at the capitol building. The new one has an Aberdeen connection, it’s called ‘Grand Coulee to Grunge: 8 stories that changed the world’ and of course it deals with Krist Novoselic and Kurt Cobain” You can find updates to the state’s Legacy Project on their website at

JOHN C. HUGHES, an award-winning reporter, editor and publisher, became chief historian for The Legacy Project in 2008. He is a trustee of the Washington State Historical Society and has contributed to several Northwest history books, including “On The Harbor: From Black Friday to Nirvana.”