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Posts tagged: King collection

The Spokane Vortex in history

In our newsroom, we call it the Spokane Vortex. It occurs when someone from the Inland Northwest is involved with a national or international news event. Or someone is related to someone in Spokane in coincidences beyond explanation.

Recently, I discovered some Spokane Vortex in history. In my Voice story today, I talked about discovering photos of two women (now deceased) who I'd written about May 27. I found photos of Eva Hardin and Ada Schaefer — career women in an era when that was uncommon — in albums once owned by Keo King LaVell, who belongs to a family who left us a collection of historic photos and memorabilia. And the next day, a man called me to tell me he'd just found one of Keo's paintings, from 1908, in a garage sale.

For some reason, it was comforting to see all these coincidences, though all the people involved have been  dead for many decades now. It was almost like they were reaching out of history to remind me how we are all so connected, in so many amazing ways.

Thanks Eva, Ada and Keo. You made my busy week a joy.

(Photo of Keo King LaVell painting courtesy of Ted Bidon)

The keeper of the boxes

As a very young attorney in Spokane in the late 1940s, my dad, Joe Nappi, was given space in an office by Charles Cowan, an established and respected attorney. Our families soon became close friends and by the time I came along, Charles had died. His widow, Iowa, and her widowed sister, Keo, lived together in North Spokane. They became like surrogate grandmothers to us, as both our grandmothers were dead.

Iowa and Keo were part of the King family, a well-known family in Spokane in the early decades of the 20th century. Iowa lived to the late 1970s. Childless, her estate went to charity and to two nephews. Remaining were about six boxes of photos, letters and greeting cards, given to my dad. My dad, before he died, told me I could have them because I was always interested in Iowa and Keo and their younger lives before I knew them and in Spokane's early history.

For more than a decade, the Iowa-Keo boxes have been in bins in my basement storage. I wrote a few articles about them over the years and scanned into our photo archives some of the historic photos in the collection, especially those featuring early Spokane scenes.

I have always felt a great responsibility to share the memories and the history in the boxes and often pictured writing a book in my retirement years. Maybe I still will. But in the meantime, I hope to share some of it, on occasion in this blog and in the newspaper, too.

In Sunday's paper, we published four of the historic lake photos compiled by Keo, with my essay on lake life then and now.

Almost everyone I know has these collections of photos and letters and so I ask today: Who would you designate your Keeper of the Boxes?

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About this blog

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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