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Doug Clark: Ancient artifact strikes a geeky, unfamiliar chord

Fossilized dinosaur dung.

That’s how ancient I’m feeling after examining what a Spokane archaeologist has dug up from the Jurassic days of Doug.

The find has been carbon dated to June 1, 1969.

On that Sunday, the photograph accompanying today’s column (guitar lad entertains trio of lovelies) appeared on page 22 of my future paycheck producer, The Spokesman-Review.

Go ahead. I’ll give you a moment to stop snickering at my bright, skinny-legged pants.

But in answer to what most of you are thinking …

Yes – that really is me.

Minus 50 pounds and 42 years, that is.

We have Stephen Emerson, program director at Eastern Washington University’s Archaeological and Historical Services, to thank for this monumental discovery.

Normally, Emerson is involved in low-key projects like, oh, getting Rogers High School on the National Register of Historic Places or writing “A People’s History of the Garland Business District.”

But once in a while, a researcher gets lucky and stumbles upon something of real historical significance.

That happened to Emerson last Thursday as he was gleaning some ancient copies of this fine newspaper.

“Guitarist Draws an Audience,” read the caption on a photograph that grabbed his attention.

“Teenage music fans, Colleen Shields, Carla Goblick and Jody Dahl, listen to a chord strummed by Doug Clark, a teacher of guitar at the YWCA …”

Emerson composed an email and sent it to me for purposes of archaeology and amusement.

“… Is that you strumming the guitar for three hot-looking groupies at the YWCA?” he wrote.

“Ingenious method of meeting chicks.”


At first, I had no inkling as to what Emerson was talking about, and for a couple of very good reasons:

1. He didn’t attach the photo to his email.

2. The main things I remember about 1969 were graduating from Ferris High School and wandering around in a constant state of heartburn over the prospect of being drafted and relocated to Southeast Asia.

I do recall teaching group guitar lessons one summer at the YWCA, although I wouldn’t have guessed the year.

But appearing in a newspaper photo?

I’m as blank as a new mayor trying to recall a campaign promise.

Not even my 89-year-old mother knew about this fleeting moment of newsprint notoriety. And she can still name every kid who ate hot lunch with me in grade school.

Besides, if my mom knew a photograph of her 18-year-old son had appeared in the paper, well, let’s just say the yellowed clipping would still be Scotch-taped to her refrigerator.

Emerson urged me to check it out. So on Friday morning I pestered a pal in the newspaper library (I still like to call it the “morgue”) into helping me track the image down.

There it was on a reel of microfiche.


Where’d all the time go?

It lessens the sting a little to know that Emerson is a fellow Class of ’69 grad a la Rogers.

The similarities don’t end there. Turns out we both went to Eastern at the same time, lived in the same dorm and attended some of the same poetry classes.

Too bad we never met.

I do find it a little eerie that someone named Stephen would send me a blast from the ’60s at this particular moment.

I’m halfway through reading Stephen King’s new novel, “11/22/63,” which is about a writer who travels back in time to stop the assassination of JFK.

In the book, King’s protagonist learns that the Land of Ago is filled with coincidental overlaps and harmonic echoes.

I’d love to go back in time, although trying to alter a major historic event seems like asking for trouble.

I’d probably focus instead on a more achievable goal, like telling Jurassic Doug to wear less-embarrassing pants.

Doug Clarkcan be reached at (509) 459-5432 or

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