FRANK KATHMAN (Co-Founder and Publisher)

by Cindy (Green) Davis
October 14, 2000
I met Frank Kathman (and his ultimate Labrador "Papa") in the summer of '68 at the first Sky River Rock Festival.  Frank "liberated" my wallet on the ride back to Bellingham and I had to track him down to get it back.  Larceny led to love, and we eventually moved into a dilapidated rental out near the Bellingham airport. No reliable plumbing, hear or water, but the rent was $50 a month.  
For the next couple of years we worked on the Passage.  I picked up summer work packing fish, but we basically survived meal-to-meal (and gastank to gastank) by selling the Northwest Passage on streetcorners.   There were regular typesetting runs to Seattle and informal meetings with Paul Dorpat - publisher of the Helix.  We hitchhiked to California several times and ferreted out underground publishers in Portland and San Francisco - the Passage sold surprisingly well on the street in San Francisco.  We attended marches, sit-ins, government hearings and police actions.  
"Compost Power"
Artist:  Cindy (Green) Davis  10/14/2000

During a trip to Denver to poke into some hanky-panky with the Atomic Energy Commission at Rocky Flats (remember Dixie Lee Ray?), Frank developed a single minded interest in composting.  Our orange volkswagen had a raised fist "Compost Power" painted on the door.  His steaming piles led to goats and gardens.  We moved out to Wickersham and eventually parted ways when I found myself in the middle of a dismal winter trying to keep warm with an impossibly soggy pile of alder.
Frank's arresting persona was a natural magnet for aging technocrats, righteous idealists, cranks, and burn-outs.  They would corner him for hours and he always took the time to listen.  Some of his best stories came from the least likely contacts.  The technocrats we met were lovely folks who became friends, but there were a lot of souls tired in invisible webs of conspiracy or personal persecution.  I remember one particularly tenacious local guy who was distraught because his father had him committed for drying banana peels....or could never tell fact from fiction.

Frank had an incisive mind and a talent for reporting, but in his heart, he was as a poet.  He admired Robinson Jeffers, and labored painstakingly over his own poems, often working deep into the night....chain smoking and smoothing his mustache.

The last time I saw Frank was in 1978.  He was living in Seattle brokering antiques.  He had just returned from taking Papa to the vet to be put to sleep.  The dog food dish was still sitting on the kitchen floor.  Pretty Poignant.

Papa Front Left, 1969
from Cover of the 2nd Issue
of Northwest Passage

Source:  Special Reunion Issue, Northwest Passage, Volume X, Number XXX, Bellingham, Wash. October 1 - October 14, 2000
(Above volume and number is the correct information for this special issue.)


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