Archived Story

Write Again … ‘I’d rather wash, wash … in Washington’

Published 8:11pm Monday, April 16, 2012

“An expert swimmer was Bill McGee,

Swam the Atlantic and the Baltic Sea.

Bathed in France, Italy, and Greece,

But nowhere could Bill find peace.

 

“So at last he swam to his native land,

Waded ashore and raised his hand.

And what did he say?

 

“’I’d rather wash, wash, wash, in Washington,

Than to bathe in ancient Rome.

Oh, my gosh, gosh, gosh, how I’ve been stung,

Since I last left my home.

 

“’I’d rather splash on the banks of the Pamlico,

Than to swim Peru or Mexico.

 

“’I’d rather wash, wash, wash, in Washington.

Washington — North Carolina!’”

Carl Goerch and Edmund Harding collaborated on this a long, long time ago. It’s sung to a familiar and popular melody line used in a college “fight song.”

I’ll sing it for you if you want.

Or … I’ll not sing it for you if you don’t want.

There was a time, many years ago, when a whole lot of Washingtonians knew and could sing this song.

A long time ago.

For those of you who are not indigenous to this area, or who are too young to remember, or to remember being told about Carl Goerch and Edmund Harding, here’s a tiny bit of history about them.

Carl Goerch was editor of the Washington Progress newspaper in the early part of the last century. He moved to Raleigh, where he began State Magazine, forerunner to Our State.

Edmund Harding was a truly beloved figure — an icon, really — whose gifts as an after-dinner speaker/entertainer were widely known across our state and well beyond. He was a gifted pianist and organist. “Mr. Edmund” was the guiding force behind the successful efforts to restore “Historic Bath.” His Christmas cards, usually depicting him in a period costume or other history associated period or personage, were much anticipated by those on his extensive mailing list. He was, truly, one of a kind, the likes of which we won’t see again.

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