AS DIRECTOR OF TOURISM for Winchester/Frederick County, I took personal affront to Eddie Dean’s tasteless article about Winchester and Patsy Cline (“Nobody’s Patsy,” 4/7). For years, writers who lack imagination have chosen to criticize Winchester in the name of sensationalism, in books and articles. They have all opted to key in on the negative behavior of 30 years ago and ignore the positive actions of today.
It was not until three years ago that Winchester had a tourism program devoted to promoting our area to potential visitors. At that time a travel strategy was compiled in which we looked at our strengths and weaknesses. We agree that there has been a lack of recognition for Patsy Cline and we are working to right the wrongs of the past. Dean says our efforts are in the name of the almighty tourist dollar. I suppose the blatantly caustic article written by Dean had nothing to do with the almighty advertising dollar. Right?
The truth is that many Cline fans from all over the world visit Winchester each year to see where Patsy lived, worked, attended school, began her career, and is laid to rest. We sincerely want a museum where they can go and celebrate Patsy’s life. Patsy deserves that. It is obvious from Dean’s tone that he is used to dealing with individuals of little integrity, who think only of their own personal gain. That is simply not the case in this situation.
Fern Adams unselfishly got the ball rolling by starting the Patsy Cline Memorial Committee many years ago. She was able to see that a street and a road were named after Patsy. She oversaw production of a brochure highlighting points of interest regarding Patsy Cline. She got a display case put together in our Old Town Welcome Center. Though it is not huge, it contains a good bit of memorabilia which Patsy’s fans enjoy seeing. Fern was involved with the bell tower structure which stands in the Memorial Park where Patsy is interred. When Fern passed away last year, we regrouped and formed a Patsy Cline Committee under the umbrella of the Chamber of Commerce. Those involved are genuine Patsy Cline fans who spend their volunteer hours meeting and planning functions with which to raise money for the future Patsy Cline Museum.
Last year, a friend and I traveled to Massachusetts, paying our own expenses, to see a singer perform a tribute to Patsy Cline. She was so good that we then coordinated a concert featuring her, over Labor Day weekend (when the Patsy Cline Fan Club meets here annually). This I did as an interested citizen, not as tourism director. Cyndi Phillips did a wonderful job of bringing Patsy’s music to life and we were able to raise close to $4,000 to begin the museum fund. It also allowed us to raise awareness in the community about our goal—the Patsy Cline Museum.
Dean’s article could have been written in a positive manner so that people know there is a new effort in place to bring Patsy to the forefront in her hometown. He could have let your readers know that we would love to have their donations toward and support of the museum project. But instead he chose to paint a sordid picture of our quaint, historic, small town, to which many metro dwellers are opting to relocate.
Winchester is conservative now, so in the ’50s I can well imagine that people didn’t quite know how to take Patsy. She was way ahead of her time. Personally, I admire her for standing her ground and not letting anyone get her down or get in the way of her sweet dreams. Please folks, let’s forget about the past and look to the future. The Patsy Cline Committee is doing just that and we won’t stop until our goal becomes a reality.
They say that even negative press is better than no press. In this case I have to agree. Dean’s article has gotten lots of people talking, and just because Dean has such a sour outlook on life doesn’t mean the rest of us have to follow suit.
Director of Tourism Marketing, Chamber of Commerce, Winchester, Va.