‘Mammy’ wins essay contest

Widge Johnson of The Dalles decided to share a memorable moment in a grandparent essay contest because “this particular story still cracks me up.”

Joan Silver, organizing the contest for the Mid-Columbia Senior Center, read Johnson’s entry, the first to be submitted, and knew instantly that it would be a tough act to follow.

“As soon as I saw it I knew it was just special,” she said.

The Dalles Chronicle staff agreed and selected Johnson’s writing for first place out of 17 essays. Silver had blocked the names of the authors during judging to ensure fairness.

Johnson said Brennen, who prefers to be called “B,” was only 4-years-old when he made the remarks that she included in her essay. See her essay below.

“He was already figuring out who and how he could manipulate the world,” she said. “I don’t know where he got the ‘way of the world,’ but he used it so appropriately that it was a bit shocking. And, along with the pat on the hand, I think he felt it would be somehow comforting to me.”

Today, Brennen is 14 and lives in Encinitas, Calif., with his parents and two siblings, which make up the Babcock family. Johnson said he is sponsored and skates competitively and hoping to go pro after graduation. When the family visits – mother Theresa Johnson is a native of The Dalles – “B” and his younger brother, Ethan, 10, ride The Dalles and Hood River skate parks.

Their older sister, Rosemary, 16, is an artist and writer.

“’B’ is a very bright kid and is turning into a really compassionate and sensitive young man. A proud Mammy here,” said Johnson.

Silver said Johnson won a $300 gift certificate at any Shilo Inn that was donated by KACI, a broadcasting station in The Dalles.

Prizes from area businesses were awarded the other entrants.

The contest is expected to become an annual tradition, said Silver, because it is fun and promotes community.

Johnson was named the winner at the grandparent breakfast on Sept. 10, which Silver said was not as well attended as organizers would have liked. She thinks that many people believed they had to be grandparents, or with grandparents, to attend.

“If we do this breakfast again, we want to let people know that it is open to everyone – it just honors grandparents,” she said.

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