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Posts tagged: gail caldwell

Telling the true story 50 years later

Kudos to Karen Erickson of Spokane who was a reporter for the Spokane Chronicle in 1963 when Gail Caldwell of Marycliff High School was named the city's first black Lilac Princess. See my story about the historic event.

Erickson filled in a bit of disturbing history in her recent letter to the editor about the 1963 parade. She wrote:

As a cub reporter for The Spokane Chronicle covering the parade, I was beside the reserved platform as the Royal Court approached in bunting-decked convertibles. A young man in a Junior Chamber of Commerce lavender blazer was helping the hoop-skirted princesses mount the platform. To my shock and embarrassment, he glimpsed the black princess and retreated, unwilling to assist her. Another gentleman quickly came forward to graciously provide an escort.This reporter scuttled back to the newsroom to advise her city editor, “Have I got a parade sidebar for you!”

Horror and disgust flashed across Gordon Coe’s face. He literally banged his forehead on his desk. “I wish to hell you hadn’t told me that … because you aren’t going to read about it in the Chronicle,” he responded. And no one did, until now. We now recognize Gail Caldwell Bonner’s courage in handling that “first black Lilac princess” role with grace and dignity.I’ve waited a half-century to report this story. But I do so now realizing we’ve come a long way in Spokane toward respecting full equality.

Thanks for taking the time to write this, Karen. One of the great gifts living into older age is that one day, you can finally tell some truths, some untold stories and set straight the family/workplace/community record.

(S-R archive photo of the 1963 Lilac Parade. Gail Caldwell is in the front right.)

When you lose a friend

Cathy's post below reminds us that we can grieve deeply for friends who die, just as much as family members. I'm reading Let's Take the Long Way Home by writer Gail Caldwell who lost to cancer her best friend Caroline Knapp, a gifted writer who overcame both alcoholism and anorexia only to die of lung cancer at 42.

Caldwell has some beautiful insights into grief. Here's a sampling:

“My life had made so much sense alongside hers: For years we had played the easy, daily game of catch that intimate connection implies. One ball, two gloves, equal joy in the throw and the return. Now I was in the field without her: one glove, no game. Grief is what tells you who you are alone.”

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Writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., addresses issues facing aging baby boomers and seniors as well as issues of serious illness, death and dying, grief and loss.

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