A war of words is brewing over who has the best Column.

This "battle of the two towers" is between the Astoria Column, standing tall and proud on the edge of Oregon's scenic Coastal Range, and the "Monument of the States" deep within the flatlands of Florida.

The first shot came with the Jan. 2 edition of the Osceola News-Gazette, a Florida newspaper, which carried an article about Astoria's Column written by Assistant Editor Tom Germond.

The article, titled "Our beloved monument needs a public relations agent," describes the Astoria Column as a "600-foot phallic symbol," which "attracts carloads of camera-toting sightseers." It is situated "on a godforsaken hill that is only accessible by some narrow road that takes longer than the duration of the Lewis and Clark expedition to ascend."

This writer further suggests that our Column is "the only one of its kind in the world" - only because "nobody else would be fool enough to build another."

Not content with blaspheming the Column, the visitor attacks the Northwest's weather. He suggests that he made a mistake by visiting Astoria in May, "before the official end of the nine-month season in the Pacific Northwest called hibernation."

He concludes that the Column compares miserably with Kissimmee, Florida's Monument of the States.

Understandably outraged, Astoria residents John and Joyce Compere, and Roger Rocka from the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, returned fire. They wrote first to correct Germond - pointing out the Astoria Column is just 125 feet tall, not 600.

They also pointed out that to Pacific Northwesterners, Coxcomb Hill is just a hill and that Germond gives it "too much credit" comparing it to Lewis and Clark's journey. They acknowledge that Germond is probably "vertically challenged, due to living in a state with flat land below sea level."

The three continue by observing a mistake Germond made in looking "at" the Column - rather than looking at what a visitor can see "from" the Column.

So did this perceptive Floridian not climb the 164 spiral steps to the top? Apparently not. But, in a true gesture of Clatsop County friendliness, the group of three offers to send postcards of the stunning view that was missed ... while politely requesting pictures of what mountains, oceans and ships can be seen from Kissimmee's "most famous landmark".

They do concede one point, however. "It's absolutely true we have weather - lots of it." They refute the assumption that Pacific Northwesterners hibernate. We "grow a little moss now and then, but never hibernate." Not even in February, the month that Germond really ought to have visited to experience "a good 80-mile-an-hour gale."

The three advise that there is no charge for the corrected information provided because "Oregonians are just naturally neighborly, what with being able to live in such an impressive place and all."

They conclude by inviting Germond back for another visit - after he has gotten over his rash, "or whatever it was that caused you to be in a disagreeable mood when you were in our area,"

The local trio assures him that there are no bad feelings. "Oregonians know how to make allowance for folks who are having a bad day," they wrote.

• If you would like to add to the rhetoric, Germond invited comments to be posted online at www.osceolanewsgazette.com or readers may e-mail the flatlander directly at tgermond@osceolanewsgazette.com


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